On Dec. 19, Allen Locke, a 30-year-old Lakota man, attended a rally against police brutality in Rapid City, South Dakota. The next day, he was shot and killed by a Rapid City police officer.
Organizers planned the rally to coincide with the Lakota National Invitational (LNI), a basketball tournament that draws thousands of fans and players to Rapid City. That made it the perfect time for a #NativeLivesMatter rally to raise awareness about police brutality in the region. The police department disagreed. It initially denied the request for a permit to walk through the city, citing the LNI tournament, and claiming that the rally “would require the diversion of so great a number of police officers of the city to properly police the activity and the areas contiguous there to as to prevent normal police protection to the city.” The rally was expected to attract about 200 people.
One of the organizers, Cody Hall, told Native News Online that the event was necessary because the “mistreatment of native men and women from the police department in Rapid City and throughout the state of South Dakota has not caught the attention regionally or nationally.” He specifically cited the tasering of an 8-year-old and the shooting death of a Native woman, both of which were deemed “justified.”
And it’s a different kind of hurt and anger that drives our narrative because the mindset on the value of native lives has not changed much in the last five centuries. Our lives and land are still seen and treated as expendable casualties of colonial progress. Hence the reason that we are still talked about in past tense and portrayed as a people on the verge of extinction, despite our growing prevalence in mainstreamed society.
Johnnie Jae, NativeMaxMagazine.com
After being denied the permit, organizers negotiated a compromise with the city and the police department, assuring officials that the event would be peaceful. On Dec. 19, about 100 people, including Allen Locke, turned out for a rally at the city’s Memorial Park and a march on the sidewalks. There were no incidents or arrests. But, by 6 p.m. the next day, Locke was dead.
According to news reports, police were called to a remove a person from a home. Police say Locke charged at Officer Anthony Meirose with a knife, and was shot “up to five times.” The officer was not wearing a body camera. Police say that race was not a factor in the shooting. Members of Locke’s family met with the mayor and police officials this morning, Dec. 22, and community members held a vigil and prayer circle outside city hall.
The family posted the following statement on the website Last Real Indians:
In light of the recent tragic events that have transpired at Lakota Homes and that have claimed the life of our son, brother, father, partner, grandson, uncle, and loved one, we feel it imperative to issue a public statement asking the Rapid City and Native community at-large to bear with us as we grieve our loss and make arrangements for our loved one. We genuinely appreciate the prayer vigils and ceremony circles that are being organized in Allen’s memory; this is a crucial time for our family as Allen is making his spirit journey. We feel the community’s hurt; we know you are angry, we know you are sad, and we know everyone is on edge as a result of Allen’s violent death coming on the heels of his participation in the #NativeLivesMatter Anti-Police Brutality Rally and March a day before this horrific incident.
There are many details that we will share in time, but we are trying very hard to hold it together and to be strong and peaceful in order to send our loved one off and to give our children an appropriate holiday’s memory. We ask that everyone respect the family’s privacy at this time. There are critical issues currently pending including an autopsy, internal investigation, a meeting with the Mayor and Rapid City Police Chief, and a prayer gathering outside the mayor’s office during that meeting at 10am MST, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.
Allen was many things to many people, and he would want us to remain peaceful and prayerful during this most trying time for our family. Again, we sincerely appreciate all the love, feelings, prayers, and energy that you are sending our way. This makes the difference and it is our hope that we can end this violence against our Native people here in Rapid City. Allen was a Sun Dancer and we want all prayer families, medicine men, spiritual leaders, and sundancers to come and pray for our family and to keep Allen and his loved ones in your prayers.