Days after a Minneapolis police officer killed 22-year-old Amir Locke, and community residents gathered at city hall to demand an ethics investigation into Mayor Jacob Frey. Minneapolis Public Radio reported dozens of community members gathered for a rally before submitting ethics complaints, with some residents calling for Frey’s resignation.
According to an Instagram post, residents move forward with Amir Locke’s family consent. Residents organizing the ethics complaint process encouraged others to contact the city’s ethics officer and demand a complete and thorough investigation into Frey’s actions.
There are four major areas of concern for the community-led ethics complaint.
– the Mayor and Interim Chief Huffman initially referred to Locke as a suspect when he wasn’t
– “unethical” use of public funds on the SWAT raid that led to Locke’s killing and not firing the officer responsible
– failure to exercise “reasonable judgment” in the request for a no-knock warrant that the original police department never requested
– Frey’s misrepresentations about banning no-knock warrants
During the Friday afternoon rally captured by independent journalist Georgia Fort, several speakers lifted up the names of people previously killed by police, including Jamar Clark and Tycel Nelson, a 17-year-old shot in the back and killed by police in 1990. To many residents, police killing Locke represents a pattern and practice of a failed department.
Valentina McKenzie, a community member of George Floyd Square and Black mother of Black children, said filing an ethics complaint against the mayor was necessary for the city to heal.
“The mayor can control the police of Minneapolis, and he refuses to do it,” McKenzie said. “Jacob’s lies and failure has caused our city even deeper trauma. By allowing his cops to do what they want and murder us freely
McKenzie asked, “how can we heal as a city when every time we look up, it’s happening again and again and again.”
Youth activist Semhar Solomon led the crowd in a call and response chant before calling for transparency, safety and accountability for all residents.
Who keeps us safe?
We keep us safe!
“Empty promises and empty actions have caused Black and brown bodies to drop,” Solomon said. “It’s not just policy shift. It’s a culture shift.”
Speaking with Newsone, co-founder of Black Visions, Miski Noor spotlighted that Locke was the third Black person killed in 66 days. They also reiterated the need for transparency and accountability for Minneapolis residents.
“This moment feels really hard,” Noor said. “It’s not that if the amendment passed, this wouldn’t have happened. But if the amendment had passed, there’s just so much more space for other responses to crises. And the thing about our amendment wasn’t even that it was just creating a new Department of Public Safety. Still, it was actually attacking the structure of policing in our city.”
Last year, Noor’s group was a part of a coalition that advocated for a ballot initiative that would have replaced the current police department with a Department of Public Safety and report to the city council. The measure was voted down, with over 40 percent of voters supporting the measure. Several Black elected officials supported it, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Noor said the outrage about Frey lying was justified, but they noted that lying isn’t new. And while Frey dismissed the effort as a political stunt, the mayor has spent the past several days trying to rationalize his prior language describing his actions around no-knock warrants.
Even the recent ban on no-knock warrants announced by Frey isn’t a total ban as it allows for some circumstances where the warrants can be requested. According to the MinnPost, city officials sought 90 no-knock warrants between November 2020 and August 2021.
Community members and local news outlets have pointed out that Frey used language to give the impression he banned no-knock warrants in his re-election campaign. The mayor has since claimed he, his team and supporters used an imprecise short-hand to describe his refining the use of the practice.
For Noor, the call for accountability is even more necessary given the passage of a strong mayor amendment giving Frey more power.
“He’s not willing to talk to the people who are impacted,” Noor said. “He’s not actually trying to take safety seriously.”
Minneapolis groups have continued pursuing safety alternatives. Noor pointed to Relationships Evolving Possibilities (REP) as an example of community-led efforts creating alternatives to calling the police.
The network also runs a secure emergency hotline called revolutionary emergency partners, offering mental health first aid and de-escalation support. It’s a community-based alternative to 911 for some non-violent emergencies like noise complaints, mental health crises and support, and conflict de-escalation.
But the site is careful to note that REP is one tool and approach in a large effort to “build the conditions for safety, freedom and dignity in our communities.”
Noor also mentioned the leadership of youth organizers with Minneapolis Youth Activists. The group was instrumental in organizing the student walk-outs that occurred earlier in the week.
“We deserve not just one Black organization or two,” Noor said. “We deserve a whole ecosystem of folks who were like ‘this is my lane, and this is how I’m contributing.'”