Public defender: Amir Locke case demonstrates that Black people don’t have gun rights

02/08/22

Legal Aid public defender Olayemi Olurin said Black Americans do not have gun rights while discussing the recent police shooting of Amir Locke, a Black man who was short in Minneapolis. 

“What we see happen to Amir Locke, we’ve seen happen in a variation of ways, whether it be Philando Castile, whether it be Breonna Taylor, we’ve seen a variation of this,” Olurin said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.” “And it leads us to this conversation, ‘do Black people even have gun rights in America?’ And I would posit, no. If we’ve seen time and time again people are killed by police, whether they’re holding a cell phone, they’re holding CDs, they’re holding cigarettes, they’re holding nothing and [the police] say they’re holding a gun.”

Police allegedly killed Locke last week after entering a Minneapolis apartment with a no-knock warrant and surprising him while he was asleep on a couch under a blanket, prompting him to reach for a firearm he legally owned. Locke was not the subject of the warrant and had no prior police record.

“People shouldn’t have to go through this. People shouldn’t have to be subject to the idea that someone can enter your home and they can have a gun, they can have not announced themselves and you’re not even allowed to be afraid,” Olurin said.

In response to the large protests that took place in downtown Minneapolis last weekend over the killing of Locke, Olurin said people need to focus on seeking criminal justice and police reform before these incidents happen, as opposed to waiting until after someone is killed to protest and demand action. 

“It’s not sufficient to say justice is how we deal with the police after someone is already killed,” Olurin said. “They’re killed, they’re dead, they’re dead, and I think we need to recognize that people are losing their loved ones, they’re losing their lives, and it needs to be done beforehand.”

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