By Chinta Strausburg
Reverend Jesse Jackson and Bishop Tavis Grant, national field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, late Tuesday night, March 1, endorsed a No-Knock bill introduced by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that if passed will establish strict limitations on how these warrants are used in drug-related investigations.
Omar introduced the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act earlier last Tuesday. Bishop Grant said it is appropriate to have such a bill passed on the federal level rather than to have state’s rights prevail. This way, he said, “it provides a remedy for citizens when departments are involved.”
In some warrants, Grant said, people have lost their lives, as in the case of 22-year-old Locke, fatally shot by Minneapolis police as he slept wrapped in a blanket on a couch holding a gun. Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, was shot and killed by Louisville police during a different No-Knock raid.
In a statement sent to the Chicago Crusader by lawyers for the Locke family, attorneys Ben Crump, Jeff Storms, and Antonio Romanucci gave a thumbs-up to Omar’s No-Knock Bill.
“We join the Locke family in applauding U.S. Representative Omar for introducing this critically important bill. There is no doubt that no-knock warrants are a tragic and devastating failure of policy, a policy that directly led to the deaths of Amir Locke, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black and brown people throughout the country for the past several decades.
“While the bill is not a complete ban on no-knock warrants, which is the ultimate goal, it is a significant step forward. We implore other members of Congress to champion this life-saving cause and pass this legislation to protect the lives and safety of those they swore an oath to serve.”
Joining the lawyers were Andre Locke and Karen Wells, the parents of Amir Locke.
Mr. Locke said, “It’s impossible to explain all of the conflicting emotions we are dealing with right now. The complete grief for the loss of our son, anger and disbelief at the way he died, which couldn’t be more different than the way he was raised or the way he lived his life, and now the surreal experience of having a federal law proposed in his name.
“Our family remains devastated by his senseless death, but we are very grateful to Representative Omar for introducing this legislation in the hopes that other families will not endure the same tragedy as ours,” Locke said.
“While the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act is not a complete ban, we support all efforts to restrict this dangerous and deadly practice to save even one other innocent life, and to hold law enforcement accountable when the service of warrants goes terribly wrong,” the father stated.
Wells said, “Amir was a shining light in our lives, shy with a loving spark of life in him. He adored his big brother, music, and African dance. He came out of his shell as he got older and lived his life loving peace, speaking his truth and taking pride in his independence and his ability to stay away from drama. He was a young adult full of promise, vision and drive.
“Just a few days after his death, he was supposed to leave Minneapolis and return to Texas to be close to other family members and pursue his passions of music and fashion. He was a loving son, brother, grandson, nephew…and he had no criminal record,” Wells stated.
“He did not deserve what happened to him, and we are now dedicating our lives to make sure the world knows he mattered. Through this bill we hope he can truly make a difference across the entire country and save young Black men and others from being tragic victims. Please pass the Amir Locke End Deadly No-Knock Warrants Act,” Wells pleaded.
Omar said her bill also bans quick-knock warrants, where officers will breach the home of a suspect after ten seconds of announcing themselves. It also bans all nighttime warrants including the use of flash-bang stun grenades, other explosive devices, chemical weapons or any military-grade firearm.
“It is unconscionable that no-knock warrants continue to be in effect with little to no restrictions, regulations and regard for the impact on lives,” Omar said. “These preventable tragedies result in mistrust and leave behind deep wounds for families and communities that have a long history of aggressive over-policing.”
Maritza Perez of the Drug Policy Alliance, said the no-knock warrants and quick-knock raids are “legacies of the racist drug war that need to end. This bill is the most far-reaching bill Congress has ever introduced on this deadly and dangerous policing tactic and we are proud to support it.”
Blacks are about three times more likely to be killed by police than whites in the U.S., according to the independent research organization Mapping Police Violence.
On the use of no-knock warrants, the American Civil Liberties Union found that 42 percent of SWAT search raids in major U.S. cities had Black suspects.
From 2010 to 2016, 81 civilians and 13 officers have been killed during the execution of no-knock warrants in the U.S., according to the New York Times.