On Feb. 2, a team of SWAT officers killed 22-year-old Amir Locke seconds after they burst into a Minneapolis apartment to serve a no-knock warrant. In a pastoral letter responding to the incident, Bishop David Bard calls for prayer and for the practice of no-knock warrants to be critically re-examined:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15).
The killing of Amir Locke, a 22-year-old, by Minneapolis police as they executed a no-knock warrant in the early morning of February 2 is a profound tragedy that evokes deep sadness, lamentation and bitter weeping, and righteous anger. Another Black man is dead—a man who was not named in the warrant, nor a permanent resident of the apartment in which he was killed. Another family is grieving. While I understand that details continue to emerge, how can we say anything except, “This should not have happened.” As followers of Jesus Christ in the Wesleyan tradition, our hearts break and we seek a better way forward.
Policing is difficult. It is made more difficult by rising levels of violence in many of our cities, including Minneapolis. It is made more complicated by the number and power of weapons in our communities. All of us, regardless of racial or ethnic identity, want to see violent crime diminish. We want to feel safe on our streets and in our homes. Policing is intended to be part of public safety.
Yet for policing to genuinely protect and serve, its methods must generate trust, must be fairly applied, and must do all they can to eliminate tragic deaths such as the killing of Amir Locke. Persons of color continue to suffer disproportionately when policing goes wrong, and this must change.
We grieve with the family of Amir Locke and hold them in prayer.
We seek accountability in his killing and hold our community in prayer.
We seek genuine reform in policing, policies, procedures, and training that builds community and protects and serves the community—the whole community. The practice of no-knock warrants, specifically, must be critically re-examined.
“Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to one another” (Zechariah 7:9). God calls us toward Beloved Community, and we seek to respond faithfully.
Bishop David A. Bard
Interim Bishop, Minnesota Conference
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church