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To the Black community in Minneapolis, the recent Department of Justice report finding systematic racism and violations of the Constitution in the Minneapolis Police Department and the city of Minneapolis came as no surprise.

Just over one year ago, I lost my son, Amir Locke, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Amir was 22, a talented musician with a winning smile. He was just about to leave Minneapolis to jump-start his music career. Instead, his life was cut short in the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2022, when the Minneapolis Police Department executed a no-knock warrant — a risky practice banned in many states. The warrant did not even name and had nothing to do with him. Officers kicked the couch where Amir was sleeping at 6:48 a.m. Seconds later, an officer immediately shot him three times in the chest and wrist, killing him.

I truly believe that if not for the city's failure to hold the MPD accountable and ban no-knock warrants as promised, my son would still be here.

But my son's death was just the latest in a long line of killings of Black men by the Minneapolis Police Department, from Jamar Clarke to the now-infamous murder of George Floyd. What the DOJ report laid out, however, was the system that created the conditions for this abuse, and the way in which the current civilian leadership of our city has repeatedly failed to hold the department accountable.

The 92-page report is exhaustive. It found that police routinely use violent force when not necessary — including against compliant and restrained individuals — and fail to intervene in use of force by other officers. It found that the department uses force against Black people at nine times the rate of their white counterparts, and against Native Americans at nearly 14 times the rate of white people. The MPD regularly attacks peaceful protesters, targets journalists and retaliates against onlookers who observe or record its activities, in violation of the First Amendment. Additionally both the MPD and the city violate the Americans with Disabilities Act in their targeting of people with behavioral health issues.

The report is focused on the Police Department's failures, but accountability for those failures extends beyond one department. While it was a Minneapolis police officer who pulled the trigger and killed my son, he was the product of years of lack of accountability for these abuses. For example, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey campaigned for re-election in 2021 saying he banned no-knock warrants. This was a lie — in fact the city executed 90 of them in the nine months after Frey's policy was enacted, and it was a no-knock warrant that took my son's life months later. In the wake of Amir's killing, Frey said, "No matter what information comes to light, it won't change the fact that Amir Locke's life was cut short." But what did he do? On the eve of the DOJ report, the city's lawyers under Mayor Frey filed a motion to dismiss our family's lawsuit against the police officer who killed Amir. As is often the case, the mayor's words failed to match his actions.

This is consistent with what the report found. The report discusses a failed accountability system, with little civilian oversight over police abuses. But this system was intentionally designed to fail. In 2012, the city gutted civilian review for officer misconduct, creating the Byzantine system we have today. It was done at the behest of the police union and the MPD.

Even more damning is the fact that many of these abuses were ignored or enabled by the department and city leadership. For example, the report details the story of a Black woman who called 911 in 2020 seeking help for her white partner who was threatening her with a knife. Officers forced entry into the house, arrested the Black woman on suspicion of domestic abuse, while giving the white woman a mental health examination. Officers held the Black woman overnight, even after the white woman (who was holding a butcher knife when the officers arrived), admitted to an officer on scene that she was the physical aggressor. When the Black woman later filed a complaint alleging discrimination and unlawful detention, it wasn't just the MPD but the city that did not process, let alone investigate, her allegations of discriminatory policing and unlawful detention.

And in the wake of George Floyd's murder, many officers stopped reporting the race and gender in traffic stops, essentially undermining efforts at accountability. The report lays much of the blame for this at the feet of city leadership. "City and MPD leaders admit they have known about MPD's shortcomings. Mayor [Jacob] Frey told us … that '[w]e knew, and continue to know, there is disparate treatment' of communities of color," the report says. "Perhaps more troubling, neither the city nor MPD has tasked anyone with regularly and systematically assessing MPD's enforcement data to identify and take action to avoid unwarranted disparities."

No reform can bring my son back. No report can change the abuses and pain families like mine continue to endure. But if we are going to avoid more unjust killings like Amir's and George Floyd's, we need to understand that the problem is larger than one officer, one department or even one city.

At its root is an ideology that assumes that police cannot and should not be held accountable if they violate their oaths. An ideology that assumes that in order to reduce crime, we must resort to ever more aggressive and rudderless law enforcement tactics — even if that means taking lives, violating the trust of the community they are sworn to protect and the U.S. Constitution. Minneapolis is one example of this ideology, but we see it take hold in cities across the country.

To address this report, we must implement robust and transparent mechanisms to hold officers accountable for misconduct. This includes truly ending deadly no-knock warrants (a federal bill from U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota does just that). It means passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. But most of all it means accountability for the civilian leadership who are in charge of our Police Department — accountability that can only come from the voters who elect them.

Andre Locke Sr. is an advocate for police reform and the father of Amir Locke, who was shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer during the execution of a no-knock warrant in February 2022.