Sharpton: Amir Locke 'not guilty of anything but being young and Black in America'

Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during the funeral for Amir Locke
Rev. Al Sharpton speaks during the funeral for Amir Locke at Shiloh Temple International Ministries on Thursday in Minneapolis, Minn. Locke was killed Feb. 2 by Minneapolis police as they executed a no-knock search warrant.
Nicole Neri | AP Photo

Updated 2:32 p.m.

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, family members and other speakers at Amir Locke’s funeral service Thursday demanded an end to no-knock warrants as they eulogized the 22-year-old Black man fatally shot by Minneapolis police while they served a search warrant.

“We are living in a nation that does not deal with us equally,” said Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy for George Floyd after his 2020 killing in police custody. “Amir was not guilty of anything but being young and Black in America.”

Family members spoke of Locke as law-abiding, warm and funny, someone who lovingly referred to his mother as “Big Dog” and was weeks away from moving to Texas to be with her when he was killed.

Linda Tyler, Locke’s aunt, called for an end to no-knock warrants and for the officer who shot Locke to be prosecuted. Police, she said, do more to deescalate crisis situations when white people are involved.

She said the common response that police just need more training rings hollow. “You cannot train away racism. You cannot train somebody to be empathetic about black and brown lives. It’s either in you or it’s not.”

APTOPIX Police Shooting Minneapolis
A protester holds a sign demanding justice for Amir Locke at a rally on Feb. 5 in Minneapolis.
Christian Monterrosa | AP file

Hundreds mourned Locke, who was fatally shot on Feb. 2 by a Minneapolis police officer, who was part of a SWAT team serving a no-knock search warrant at a high-rise downtown apartment.

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The city released a brief body camera video clip showing a SWAT team opening the door of the downtown apartment where Locke was staying, then shouting “police” and “search warrant.”

Seconds later, Locke is seen stirring from underneath a blanket and holding a handgun just before officer Mark Hanneman shoots him. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting.

Locke was not named in the warrant, which was part of a St. Paul homicide investigation. Police later arrested Locke’s 17-year-old cousin, who’s charged with murder in the case.

The shooting has sparked renewed, widespread calls to end no-knock raids. Days after the shooting, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he was halting the use of no-knock warrants in the city, and would work with national experts to suggest revisions to the department’s policy.

Speakers at Locke’s service slammed the city for still allowing no-knock warrants after Frey said they would be suspended. Sharpton said Locke would still be alive if no-knock warrants had been ended and called for changes in state and federal law, with the state law to be named for Locke.

“We are no longer going to be your nameless suspects,” Sharpton said. “His name wasn’t on your warrant, but his name’s going to be in your law book.”

Locke's mother Karen Wells admonished city leaders and police.

"Mayor Frey and all those SWAT members, MPD that was in there...When you go to bed at night, I want you to see his face. When you wake up in the morning, I want you to see his face."

Watch the Amir Locke funeral service from Thursday: