A Minnesota gun rights organization issued a statement condemning the killing of 22-year-old Amir Locke, who was shot by a SWAT team on Wednesday.
Locke, a Black man and legal gun owner, was sleeping when police entered the home where he was staying without warning. Startled awake by the no-knock raid, Locke grabbed his gun. Police responded by fatally shooting him.
“Mr. Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances, he reached for a legal means of self-defense while he sought to understand what was happening,” Rob Doar, senior vice president of governmental affairs at the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, said in a press release.
“The tragic circumstances of Mr. Locke’s death were completely avoidable,” Doar continued. “It’s yet another example where a no-knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person. In this case, as in others, the public should expect and receive full transparency and accountability from law enforcement agencies that serve and protect our local communities.”
Locke had a gun license as well as a concealed carry permit. His name was not listed on the warrant, which was part of a homicide investigation.
The group’s statement is a rarity in the gun rights conversation. The National Rifle Association, is often silent when police shoot Black gun owners and, in fact, has a history of anti-Black rhetoric.
The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus was formed in 2015 and also issued a statement following the 2016 killing of Philando Castile, a Black Minnesota man who legally owned a gun and was shot during a traffic stop. When he was pulled over, Castile informed the police officer that he had a gun that he was licensed to carry in his glove compartment.
The NRA issued no statement in Castile’s death.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve waded into these waters,” Doar told HuffPost on Saturday. “We’ve been disappointed with the NRA and other groups who aren’t willing to take a stand when an innocent gun owner is killed. That’s the exact reason why we exist.”
Locke, an aspiring musician, was planning to move to Dallas later this month to launch his hip-hop career and live closer to his mother. He’d filed paperwork to launch a music business.
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