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Amir Locke's Killing Shows Disparity in Treatment of Black Gun Owners

Relatives and friends of Amir Locke, who was killed by Minneapolis police Feb. 2 as they executed a no-knock warrant on the apartment where he was lying on a couch, grieved over his casket at Shiloh Temple International Ministries – the same church that hosted the funerals of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Daunte Wright last April. The Rev. Al Sharpton called out the National Rifle Association for its silence on Locke’s death. The 22-year-old DoorDash delivery man was a legal gun owner, relatives said, and had purchased a weapon to protect himself amid a string of carjackings, Capital B News reports. He was holding the weapon when police shot him. Activist Kunta X, leader of the Minneapolis chapter of the Fred Hampton Gun Club, which advocates for Black people’s armed self-defense, said Black gun owners face a double standard when they attempt to exercise their right to protect themselves. “What’s the point of following the law if there are the same consequences as someone who doesn’t?” Kunta X said. “You’re looked at as a felon either way.”

Black people have historically been viewed as “inherently dangerous” by the criminal justice system, said Gloria Browne-Marshall, a professor of constitutional law at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. White law enforcement officers often see themselves in white suspects and give them the benefit of the doubt, she said. Many saw that racial dynamic at play in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, when police initially failed to arrest the shooter, Travis McMichael, or the other white men who chased Arbery down outside in Georgia in 2020. They remained free for more than two months until a leaked cellphone video of the shooting ignited public anger. That level of empathy often isn’t shown Black people, even when they possess a legal weapon. A Minnesota police officer fatally shot Philando Castile in 2016 after he told the officer he had a legal weapon in the car. Police killed John Crawford in an Ohio Walmart in 2014 while he was carrying a BB gun that was being sold there. Cleveland police killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice that year while he was playing with a BB gun in a park.


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