Before 7:00 a.m. last Wednesday, February 8th., 22 year old Amir Locke was sleeping soundly, wrapped in a comforter on a couch inside a Minneapolis apartment. A police bodycam video shows SWAT team police officers entering the apartment at that moment by quietly turning a key to unlock it, bursting through the doorway yelling Police! Search Warrant! One of the officers kicked the sofa where Locke was sleeping. Locke, a Black man, seemed to be startled and tried to sit up while holding a gun he had legally purchased for protection in his work as a driver for a food delivery service in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area. A few seconds later, Amir was shot and killed by policemen serving a no-knock warrant – but not for a warrant against Amir.
Sound familiar? It really should. Next month, March 13th., marks the two year anniversary of the murder of Breonna Taylor, the 26 year old Black woman killed by police in her own apartment in Louisville, Kentucky. Ms. Taylor was an Emergency Room tech for the University of Louisville Health. Three police officers fired 32 bullets in the early morning raid that killed Taylor, hitting her six times.
Jury selection has begun this week (two years after the fact) for Louisville Metro ex-police officer Brett Hankison on charges of wanton endangerment because he fired recklessly during the early morning raid into Taylor’s neighbor’s apartment where three people were inside. He also fired 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment, but his bullets were not the ones later identified as killing her.
No one has ever been charged in Breonna Taylor’s death.
Marisa Lati in an article in The Washington Post on February 03, 2022 writes “Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said the three felony counts of wanton endangerment against Hankison should be the lowest charges among many in the case. ‘The trial of Brett Hankison recalls the inconceivable lack of justice for Breonna Taylor,’ he said in a statement. ‘It is hard to comprehend that this is the only criminal trial to emerge from the botched no-knock raid that took her innocent life and subsequently shook the nation.’ ”
Reporting by Sara Burnett of the Associated Press on February 05th. states Amir Locke had recently filed paperwork to start his own music business and was leaving Minneapolis to move to Dallas next week to be closer to his mother. Locke’s family said he had no previous criminal record. Amir was born in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood, grew up in the suburbs where he played basketball in middle school and tried out for the high school football team but a broken collar bone ended his athletic career. Music became his passion, he loved hip-hop and “speaking about the realities of what’s going on in the neighborhood,” according to Andre Locke, his father.
February is designated Black History Month, and the clouds that cover me today are for these two young people who should have been contributors to that history but whose names now become reminders of the ongoing lack of equal justice and systemic racism instead. Amir Locke. Breonna Taylor.
Hear their voices as Oprah explained the remarkable cover of Breonna Taylor for the September, 2020 issue of Oprah Magazine:
“For the first time in 20 years, @oprah has given up her O Magazine cover to honor Breonna Taylor. She says, Breonna Taylor. She was just like you. And like everyone who dies unexpectedly, she had plans. Plans for a future filled with responsibility and work and friends and laughter. Imagine if three unidentified men burst into your home while you were sleeping. And your partner fired a gun to protect you. And then mayhem. What I know for sure: We can’t be silent. We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice. And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine. I cry for justice in her name…”
Today on this 08th. day of Black History Month I also cry for justice in Breonna Taylor’s and Amir Locke’s names, two young people who made history for the wrong reasons but whose legacy will forever be linked to the struggles for justice for all Black people everywhere. Say their names.
Stay safe, stay sane, get vaccinated, get boosted and please stay tuned.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.