It has been more than 50 years since Malcolm X traveled around the globe to bring awareness to human rights violations being made against Black people in America. A quick glance at the world’s affairs suggests that not much has changed in society since then. Just days shy of the iconic activist’s 94th birthday on Sunday, a Black woman’s home was raided by law enforcement after neighbors’ complained that she was playing Malcolm X speeches in her own yard.
Nearly a dozen police officers showed up with a search warrant at Mikisa Thompson’s doorstep in Garner, North Carolina, on Thursday. In video of the encounter filmed by Thompson, her children could be seen hiding in the bathroom as the police knocked on the door. They ultimately decided to join their mother since there was no one with her.
When they finally opened the door, the police immediately ordered them to vacate the house and claimed there was a search warrant. Thompson’s daughter told the officer to read the warrant to them, which he did. According to INDY, the officers went on to seize a MacBook, an HP laptop, a computer monitor, seven iPhones, computer speakers, an alarm clock and charging cables. Thompson was also issued a summons to appear in court over charges that she violated the city’s noise ordinance, a law so vague that police officers have the authority to decide whether someone is in violation.
Though the raid took place last week, the incident in question took place last month.
According to the search warrant, a 65-year-old white neighbor, Don Barnette, called 911 on April 22 to complain that Thompson had been listening to “loud Islamic-Muslim preaching” in her backyard. That turned out to be Malcolm X speeches Thompson was listening to.
Barnette described the speeches to INDY as “Islamic-Jihadist type messages” that he did not want his family to hear.
“When it’s talking about killing white people and if you’re black and you still work for a white man, you’re a slave, all that kind of stuff, I don’t need to hear that,” he said. “My grandkids don’t need to hear that mess.”
Thompson’s attorney, T. Greg Doucette, said it was “insane” for police to seek a warrant.
“The raid was officially insane and based on an unconstitutional statute,” Doucette said. “Doing a midnight raid with nine officers—over a noise ordinance, of all things—is a disproportionate show of force that shows there’s something else at play. That’s the type of overkill that’s intentionally designed to terrorize and punish people, not to actually do what’s necessary for enforcing the case.”
Garner police released a statement about the search-and-seizure claiming it had previously tried to come to a peaceful resolution, but Thompson could not be reasoned with. The department also claimed that officers were responding to the speeches’ volume, not its words.
“While I cannot make an inference as to whether Mr. Barnette took issue with the content of the noise, our officers were only concerned about how loud the noise was and the fact that we had a valid noise complaint from a neighbor,” the statement said.
Thompson’s daughter, Takiyah, said she wasn’t so sure. Takiyah made national headlines in 2017 for toppling a Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina. She said she believed that her mother’s recent troubles stemmed from that incident.
“If you followed me recently you know pigs raided my home in the night for playing Malcolm x speeches in my backyard. What you may not know is.. in 2017 I put a rope around the neck of a confederate soldier and folks pulled it down. My charges got dropped,” Takiyah wrote in a tweet.
Thompson was set to appear in court related to the charges.