Hundreds of people joined in song and prayer Thursday at the funeral service for Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man who was shot by Minneapolis police serving a search warrant.
As the service was getting underway, those gathered at Shiloh Temple International Ministries were prompted to “Say his name" and they responded with “Amir Locke.” A large portrait of Locke was displayed at the front of the church, with a white casket topped with roses and bouquets of flowers nearby. Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were among those in attendance.
Locke's death has provoked an outcry against no-knock warrants, with a push by his family and others to ban them in Minnesota and beyond.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has come under scrutiny for the city’s use of such warrants, and Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman did not attend. Shiloh Temple Bishop Richard Howell Jr. told the Star Tribune that Frey would not attend without an invitation from the family.
As the service began, hundreds of people sang the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before Howell led the church in a prayer. Members of the Grammy Award-wining group Sounds of Blackness also performed.
The Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to deliver the eulogy, in the same church where Daunte Wright was remembered after he was killed by a suburban Minneapolis police officer in April. Sharpton, while presiding over Wright’s funeral days after the young Black man was shot by a suburban Minneapolis police officer, decried “the stench of police brutality.”
Locke was shot by a SWAT team member shortly before 7 a.m. on Feb. 2 as officers served a search warrant in a St. Paul homicide case. Body camera video shows at least four officers using a key to quietly enter the downtown apartment where he was staying, then shouting their presence. The video shows Locke, wrapped in a comforter, stirring and holding a handgun right before an officer shot him.
Locke wasn’t named in the warrant and did not live at the apartment. Family members called his killing an “execution,” noting the video shows an officer kicking the sofa, and suggested Locke was startled awake and disoriented. They have also pushed back against police saying Locke was shot after he pointed his gun at officers.
Frey has imposed a moratorium on such warrants while the city reexamines its policy. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating Locke's shooting.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.