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Community marks Amir Locke's 24th birthday

Amir Locke's mother, Karen Wells, speaks at a gathering for what would have been her son's 24th birthday. Locke was shot and killed by police executing a no-knock warrant in November 2022. (Photo: CBJ reporter Elijah Todd-Walden)

The friends and family of Amir Locke held a 24th birthday party for him Friday evening, celebrating his life and affirming their pursuit of justice for his death at the hands of Twin Cities police.

More than 70 people gathered in a room in the Aloft hotel in downtown Minneapolis to remember Locke two years after he died. Brass Solidarity played in a corner as attendees streamed into the room. Among those in attendance were Families Supporting Families Founder Toshira Garraway Allen, Communities United Against Police Brutality Attorney Paul Bosman, and Emmett Till Legacy Foundation Founder Deborah Watts.

Locke's family members addressed the crowd, reminiscing on his life and condemning the actions taken by the police that led to his death.

“I had a brother that was murdered in 1995 – it’s unsolved," Amir Locke’s mother Karen Wells said. "But one thing I always wanted to ask, and I regret not asking my mother, ‘how did you get through it?’ Because I never knew I was going to be walking the same footsteps, years later, that my mom had to walk when it came to losing my brother.”

Locke was shot and killed by police on Nov. 2, 2022 during a no-knock raid. He was not named in the search but was sleeping on the couch. When police burst in, the 22-year-old grabbed a pistol he legally owned and pointed it towards them. Police then shot Locke three times.

Wells moved out of Minnesota after Amir’s death, but comes back to advocate for change. She says she feels traumatized every time she enters Minnesota, but she doesn't want another mother to feel the way she does.

“This does not feel like home for me. It was a home for my older son, and a home for Amir, they were born and raised here, [but] to have them kill him the way they did, I will never accept it and I will never rest,” Wells said.

Locke’s death put immense pressure on city and state officials to ban no-knock warrants. The state legislature is considering passing legislation that bans the practice, and Minneapolis banned the issuing of no-knock warrants in April. However, the officers responsible for Locke’s death were not charged; Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said the officers did not violate deadly force laws.

The birthday celebration came a day before a showing of a documentary created by Locke’s family. The film “No Knock - No Charge: The Amir Locke Story” shows how the police handled the fatal raid and the trauma the family has been left with in its aftermath.

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