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Black woman charged after ‘playing Malcolm X speeches too loudly’

Nine police officers in Garner, North Carolina raided a black woman’s house and charged her over a noise violation after a neighbour complained she was playing Malcolm X speeches too loudly.

Mikisa Thompson was accused of playing “amplified speech being projected by some sound amplification device”, according to a search warrant issued by Garner Police Department.

The officers executed the search warrant during the 16 May raid.

They seized several electronic devices from the activist’s home, including a MacBook, an HP laptop, a computer monitor, seven iPhones and computer speakers, according to Indy Week.

Don Barnette, Ms Thompson’s neighbour, first called 911 to complain about the mother playing “loud Islamic-Muslim preaching” on 22 April.

Police officers visited Ms Thompson on the same day, seized her stereo and issued her with a $50 fine (£40).

They returned on 16 May at 10pm, after Mr Barnette complained that the activist had continued to play the Malcolm X speeches shortly after 7am.

The activist denies playing the recordings that early in the morning.

During the raid Ms Thompson’s children hid in an upstairs bathroom but emerged after they realised their mother was on her own.

One of her children broadcast part of the raid on Twitter.

The activist was charged with violating Garner’s noise ordinance, a misdemeanour which carries a maximum fine of $500.

“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,” T. Greg Doucette, Ms Thompson’s lawyer, said.

“That’s the type of overkill that’s intentionally designed to terrorise and punish people, not to actually do what’s necessary for enforcing the case.”

Garner’s noise ordinance prohibits “the playing of any radio, phonograph, television set, record player, sound reproduction device or any musical instrument in such a manner...as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort or repose” of others between 11pm and 7am.

“Our officers did everything that they could at the time to try and bring a peaceful conclusion to this issue before seizing the speaker,” Joe Binns, captain of Garner Police, said.

“First, we warned Ms. Thompson and asked her to turn it down. When she refused and received a second complaint, we issued her a citation for violation of the ordinance.

“And finally, when she continued the loud and unreasonable noise, a search warrant was obtained and the speaker was seized.

“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 neighbour.”

The police warrant issued by Garner Police Department mentions Malcolm X twice.

Mr Barnette has claimed that he is not racist. “I don’t have anything against any black person that acts like they’ve got sense,” he said.

He added that he and his family felt like victims “of a hate crime.”

Jessica Turner of the ACLU North Carolina said the 16 May raid was part of a “disturbing pattern of people calling 911 on black and brown people for simply engaging in everyday life like gardening in their backyard.

“It’s quite literally life and death for people of color when the police are called on them,” she added.

Ms Thompson has been summoned to appear in court on 24 June.