Mikisa Thompson, of Garner, North Carolina, experienced impromptu visits from the police on several occasions due to noise complaints from her white neighbor. Usually, the complaints occur when Thompson plays Malcolm X speeches over her stereo.
Yet, when a recent call to 911 resulted in an armed raid of Thompson’s home, she decided to lawyer up, Indy Week reports.
The incidents date back to April 22, when Don Barnette, Thompson’s neighbor, complained about Thompson playing “loud Islamic-Muslim preaching,” from her outdoor speakers while she cleaned her patio.
Police made a total of three visits to Thompson’s home that day before serving her a $50 fine for violating the noise ordinance.
After the department obtained a search warrant of her property, police confiscated the $250 stereo.
As Thompson would continue to play the speeches at her home, Barnette would repeatedly call the police to report the speeches, which he described to Indy Week as Malcolm’s “Islamic-Jihadist-type messages.”
Then on May 16, Barnette made another complaint, this time saying Thompson was playing an “amplified speech being projected by some sound amplification device.”
Around 10 p.m., officers showed up at Thompson’s home and demanded she and her children step outside.
“My children were terrified,” Thompson told Indy Week. “I was terrified that there was a whole bunch of men with guns in my house.”
Officers then raided Thompson’s home and took a MacBook, HP laptop, computer monitor, computer speakers, seven iPhones and an alarm clock.
Under the town’s noise ordinance, the police were never required to test the sound levels to see if Thompson was actually wrong. In the end, Thomas was accused of violating community bans on “the creation of any unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise … of such character, intensity, and duration as to be detrimental to the health and welfare of any individual.”
Police issued Thompson a summons to appear in court on June 24.
Thompson’s lawyer, T. Greg Doucette, says the raid on her home was not only unethical, but also unconstitutional.
“The raid was officially insane and based on an unconstitutional statute,” Doucette told IndyWeek. “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.”
In an email to IndyWeek, the police department defended the actions of the officers.
“Our officers did everything they could at the time to try and bring a peaceful conclusion to this issue before seizing the speaker,” Captain Joe Binns told IndyWeek. “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 neighbor.”
Barnette also claims he isn’t racist and it’s actually him who is the victim of a “hate crime.”
“I don’t have anything against any Black person that acts like they’ve got sense,” he told IndyWeek.
“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,” Barnette added. “My grandkids don’t need to hear that mess.”
Despite Barnette’s claim, Thompson maintains she and her family, who have since moved to a hotel, are the only victims in this situation.
“The victim of a hate crime is picking up the phone on Black people whose only crime that you can detect is that they are playing ‘Islamic speeches,’” Thompson told IndyWeek. “All you know is it was loud, it was Black, and it was somebody proud of being Black, and you wanted to put it to an end.”
(Photo: Grassetto/Getty Images)