SAINT PAUL, Minn. – This evening, the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee heard HF 2290, legislation banning any court from issuing or approving a no-knock search warrant. The legislation is authored by Representative Brion Curran (DFL – Vadnais Heights), a former police officer and Chisago County deputy sheriff. The bill was referred to the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on a vote of 8-5.
No-knock warrants can lead to fatalities for citizens and law enforcement officials alike. Recent data has shown that no-knock warrants have led to the death of 81 citizens and 13 officers between 2010 and 2016.?No-knock warrants also conflict with the right to self-defense, which is particularly important in Minnesota, where 40% of residents are lawful gun owners.
“No-knock warrants are unsafe and put the pursuit of justice above the lives of innocent bystanders, the lives of police officers, and people who are in the right place but on the wrong sheet of paper,” said Rep. Curran “Minnesotans have a constitutional right to privacy and to defend themselves in their home, which no-knock warrants unnecessarily infringe upon. I thank the family of Amir Locke for testifying tonight and urge the legislature to pass this bill and ensure that other innocent bystanders like Amir do not lose their life to no-knock warrants.”
Andre Locke, the father of Amir Locke, spoke in support of the legislation. Amir Locke was an innocent bystander killed on February 2, 2022, by Minneapolis Police executing a no-knock search warrant in which Locke was not named.
“No-knock warrants, like the one that resulted in Amir’s senseless death, are an issue that Minnesota and our entire nation need to deal with,” said Andre Locke. “We’ve seen over and over again across the country ways in which these raids result in unnecessary damage, injury and death. We call on our leaders to do the right thing and eliminate or significantly restrict this militaristic approach to policing our communities. Minnesota has a responsibility to its citizens to ensure police officers are properly trained and understand how to de-escalate interactions with civilians and value human life. This tragedy was avoidable if the city of Minneapolis abided by its promise to cease performing these dangerous and unnecessary no-knock warrants. Our hearts are broken, and there is nothing in the world that will make that better. Amir was a beautiful 22-year-old man with his whole life to be lived and we will never know how his contributions could have made the world a better place. We now fight for justice in his name and hope meaningful change will be his legacy.”
No-knock warrants were created under President Richard Nixon in the 1970s as part of the war on drugs campaign. The no-knock warrant created a blueprint to marginalize BIPOC communities and perpetuate structural and systemic racism that disproportionately convicts and murders innocent Black and Brown people. Compared to Minneapolis, St. Paul has not carried out a no-knock warrant since 2016. Minnesota state officials mandated law enforcement agencies to report how often they use no knocks last in 2021. Data from Sept. 1, 2021, to Feb. 2 show that of the 94 warrant subjects whose race was reported, 70 percent were Black, the Minnesota Post reported.
Representative Cedrick Frazier (DFL – New Hope), the co-chair of the House People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus, released the following statement in support of the legislation.
“We need to protect our citizens by banning No-knock warrants. No-knock warrants are a dangerous tool that should only be used in cases where a captive may be severely harmed or killed because of police announcing themselves," said Rep. Frazier. “It is incumbent upon us to make sure that we don’t lose any more lives to no-knock warrants. The POCI Caucus is committed to continuing to pursue legislation to ensure Minnesotans across our state feel safe and secure in their homes. We will urgently continue our efforts to create state laws that dismantle racism, demand accountability, and community-centered public safety that will protect Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives.”
A recording of the hearing, including testimony and the vote, can be found on the Minnesota House Information Youtube Page.