Home Crime Parents of Amir Locke and Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump Speak Out on Banning No-Knock Warrants – PEOPLE

Parents of Amir Locke and Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump Speak Out on Banning No-Knock Warrants – PEOPLE

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Parents of Amir Locke and Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump Speak Out on Banning No-Knock Warrants – PEOPLE

Across the United States, demands for an end to the use of no-knock warrants — a controversial police practice allowing officers to enter a premises without knocking or announcing their presence or purpose — are once again reverberating following the police killing of Amir Locke. 
The 22-year-old Black man at the center of the latest high-profile officer-involved shooting had plans to relocate to Dallas from Minneapolis within the week to be closer to his mother. But the day never came after a SWAT team, authorized by a no-knock warrant, entered an apartment where Locke was sleeping Feb. 2 and shot him multiple times, despite Locke not being part of the warrant. 
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said in a Feb. 4 statement that Locke's death was ruled a homicide as a result of multiple gunshot wounds fired by Minneapolis police. The incident occurred nearly two years after the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman whose death sparked national outrage when she was killed in her sleep by police executing a no-knock warrant.
Andre Locke and Karen Wells, Amir Locke's parents, spoke with PEOPLE alongside their attorney, Ben Crump, to discuss the perils of no-knock warrants and their impact on their family. 
Ms. Wells, mother of Amir Locke: We want [no knock warrants]] banned across the 50 states, across the United States. We want it banned in the name of Amir Locke so that this doesn't happen to anybody else's child.
Mr. Locke, father of Amir Locke: Some of these people believe because they put the badge on that they're above the law. But what they forget is that there's police that police the police. They can be accountable from a higher position, but they forget that because they believe when it's the African American male or a Brown-skin person from our Brown communities, they feel like we're not human. This is the reason that we have to humanize our children to America to show that this is wrong.
Mr. Crump, civil rights attorney representing family of Amir Locke: And I think saying that these no-knock warrants are distributed and executed disproportionately against people of color, it is foreseeable that an innocent person like Amir Locke, like Breonna Taylor, is going to be killed by these police violating the fourth amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. There was no reason they had to serve a no-knock warrant and ask the judge for nighttime service. That is the most dangerous kind of warrant you can execute. You're going to bust in my house and you're going to do it while we're sleeping. Amir's fate was sealed the time they issued that one.
PEOPLE: Did you ever have conversations with Amir about what happened to Breonna Taylor?
Ms. Wells: Yes. We always talked to both our sons about what was going on and they were made well aware of how to respond if they were ever stopped by the police officers and everything. They were taken aback about all the cases that we've been watching as well.
PEOPLE: Do you recall anything he mentioned about Breonna Taylor?
Mr. Locke: He felt that it was unfair and he thought that it was wrong that they went into this young lady's house the way that they did with this no-knock warrant. And Amir was very vocal and he thought that it was wrong and that justice should prevail.
Mr. Crump: So Amir was very affected by Breonna Taylor, never knowing that this would be his fate.
PEOPLE: What do you think about the protesting?
Mr. Locke: We support peaceful protesting, and as long as it's peaceful and sticks to the narrative and the facts about Amir's life and the no-knock warrants that are hurting Black and Brown people around this country, we're okay with it and we stand with them.
PEOPLE: Tell me about Amir.
Ms. Wells: He actually relocated to Dallas with me in 2019. We had been there for two years, but Amir was doing [food and grocery delivery] so it can be across the states because he was going back and forth between the Twin Cities and Dallas. Just recently, we both had spoken to him about coming back to Dallas to be with me, and that's what he was working on.
PEOPLE: How long was he in Minneapolis?
Ms. Wells: Three months.
Mr. Locke: He wanted to spend more time with his younger siblings and also with myself and also with some of the other family, but mainly myself.
PEOPLE: Did you know he was interested in a music career?
Mr. Locke: I watched Amir grow from a baby into a young man. I understood that he enjoyed music at an early stage. He's been doing it for years. So when he decided to follow in my footsteps, it just made me a proud papa, and I was absolutely thankful for his choice. I supported him and his mother supported him as well. But let me say this, that wasn't the only thing Amir was about. That was just a part of it. It was just a part of the dream. So Amir, his main ambition was to help young people like himself, that he was able to steer them in the right direction. Out of all of his friends, Amir was able to give them direction. So they liked to follow in Amir's direction because Amir was positive. He was peaceful and he was love.
PEOPLE: Why do you think he wanted to help youth?
Mr. Locke: Well, one thing that I learned about my son, seeing him grow into a young man, Amir likes to research everything. I knew that he wanted to change people's mind to let them know that they didn't have to just do one thing. Sometimes for young people, they just focus on what they see and a lot of them are seeing music videos and they think that's all that's out there. Now, Amir was trying to show young people that you're able to do all things. All things are possible. He kept God first.
Ms. Wells: I helped him purchase his LLC and he was starting his own clothing line, and it was titled Saving the Youth. He felt like this country was going in the wrong direction. And therefore, in order for you to tap into saving a child before they turn into an adult, you have to start when they're young. And that's why he wanted to cater to the youth. You have to start them young. That's what he believed in. And then that way they won't have to grow up no matter what their environment is. It doesn't have to reflect on who they become.
Amir was very wise, and one thing about him, he was able to be around a village. So he had uncles, aunts, he had our parents, grandfathers, grandmothers that were there to just make sure they steered him in the right direction. And he was always an advocate of listening and he respected elders.
PEOPLE: Amir didn't tell you about going to Minneapolis because you would be upset. Why is that?
Ms. Wells: I wanted my sons away from Minnesota because there was too much… Just a lot of killings going on. So I wanted to open their eyes into a different area, environment. My boys are both born and raised here in the twin cities, but actually my boys wanted to, both of my sons wanted to leave and go somewhere else, somewhere different. But they always stated, and Amir always said, "No matter where I go, I'm still going to come back to the twin cities and do things here as well, because this is where we're from."… And it was just a matter of where he's from. This is like the foundation that started who Amir is. So no matter where he went, he was going to be bicoastal. That is exactly what Amir said.
PEOPLE: He was going to move back to Dallas?
Ms. Wells: Within the week, the week prior to his execution. he had his own car and I believe that Amir was scared to fly because whenever I would tell him I could fly him back, he was like, "No, I'll just drive." He's never been on a plane.
Mr. Locke: Amir was a loner. He enjoyed being by himself. He was a loner. He was mainly by himself all the time. This is why this is so hurtful. Oh my goodness. Yes.
PEOPLE: How would you describe his music?
Mr. Locke: It was hot. …. It's just, he was ready. He was good. He wrote about everything. He wrote about life, some of his friends' lives and what he sees in the streets, what he sees abroad, what he sees taking place with George Floyd, with Breonna Taylor, also the latest with Dante Wright. So that actually hit home. That was upsetting to him as well. 
Mr. Crump: They weren't  thinking he would become a hashtag like the people he was writing about.
PEOPLE: How are you handling things?
Ms. Wells: We're doing the best that we can and we believe in a higher power. The prayers coming in, we have a lot of prayer warriors around us in the family that's lifting us up. And not only that, we have an angel and he's lifting us up and it is because of him that I can speak the way that I'm speaking, as well as his father.
PEOPLE: What do you want Amir's legacy to be?
Mr. Crump: Well, I think Karen said it best. She wants his legacy to be that no other person would be killed while they're in their home, laying down asleep by the police, breaking in and executing the no-knock warrant.
PEOPLE: How angry are you?
Ms. Wells: On a scale of one to 10, I'm 100 times angry. To be honest, because my son is a Minnesota native, I feel very disrespected that they took his life. I feel very disrespected.
PEOPLE: Are you going to keep pushing until there's a ban?
Ms. Wells: I'm going to keep pushing for a no-knock warrant ban in Amir's name. And I'm not going to stop because I want to make sure that this doesn't happen to anybody else. I still have a 24-year-old, his brother, one of his best friends, somebody that he grew up with. I don't want to see anything happen to him. I don't want to see anything happen to his two little brothers that they have. I don't want to see anything happen to anybody else. Our children should not have to become a hashtag.
PEOPLE: How do you remember Amir?
Ms. Wells: I still see my son with his beautiful smile. That's what keeps me going. I just keep seeing him smiling. That's how I want to remember him. His mannerism was very playful and that's how I'm going to remember my son. I refuse to watch the entirety of that video. As his mother, I want to remember him when I last spoke to him last Friday. That's how I want to remember him and him telling me that he loved me.
PEOPLE: Mr. Crump, how do you bring comfort to families who experience these tragedies?
Mr. Crump: Well, you try to be very honest from day one and say that we can't promise what's going to happen with the court system, because it's the jury who would decide the verdict. But what we talk about is we promise we'll get to the truth of what happened and the truth is the foundation for justice. And if we can expose the truth and let everybody see, then we believe we can get justice. So we start on this journey together, we start talking about trying to interact and fight, not only in the court of law but also in the court of public opinion. So you'd have Karen bear her heart in these interviews to say, "I'm going to fight to give my son the legacy that he deserves since his life was taken from him."
You start understanding that this is going to be a lifetime journey from now that she's forever going to be the voice of her son, and Andre, and they will establish and define what his legacy will be. It's kind of like you are healing because you are finding a way to transform the pain into a purpose.

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