A group of mostly black citizens is working together to keep the peace in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis, Minnesota, following more than a week of riots, driven, in part, by “anti-fascist” elements that have escalated demonstrations against racism and police brutality into riots.
The group calls itself the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, according to The Associated Press, and while heavily armored and, in some cases are also armed, they say they are there to keep the peace between police and protesters and ensure that demonstrations do not escalate into violence.
“As protests intensified in the Minneapolis suburb where a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a group of Black men joined the crowd intent on keeping the peace and preventing protests from escalating into violence,” the outlet noted.
“The Black men at the edge of the crowd wear yellow patches on protective vests that identify them as members of the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, a group formed to provide security in Minneapolis’ north side neighborhoods during unrest following the death of George Floyd last year,” the AP continued. ‘They are not shy about casting a forceful image — the group’s Facebook page features members posing with assault-style weapons and describes itself as an ‘elite security unit’ — but on Friday the Freedom Fighters didn’t appear to be armed and said they intended only to encourage peaceful protesting.”
The group has a uniform and yellow badges, and they communicate with each other from positions around the protests, working to stop violent and destructive incidents before they invite a police response.
“As several people began to rattle a fence protecting the Brooklyn Center police department, the Freedom Fighters communicated to each other over walkie-talkies,” The Associated Press noted. “On recent nights, the Freedom Fighters have moved through the crowd in formation, wearing body armor and dark clothing, weaving past umbrella-wielding demonstrators to create separation along a double-layer perimeter security fence. Their passive tactics are intended to deescalate the tension, preventing agitators from pressing forward and provoking the law enforcement officers standing at attention with pepper-ball and less-lethal sponge grenade launchers at the ready.”
“We can keep it peaceful,” one member of the group told the media, adding that they believe the violence and provocation detract from the overall message of the demonstrations. “There’s always somebody in the group that wants to incite something.”
Although the Minnesota Freedom Fighters stopped short of pointing fingers at “Antifa,” or “anti-Fascist” protesters, many of whom are white, The Associated Press notes that the Freedom Fighters have clashed with black-clad agitators intent on inciting violence.
“The Freedom Fighters have clashed this week with umbrella-carrying demonstrators intent on provoking law enforcement officers. On Saturday, members of the group removed a group of demonstrators who had tried to cut the chains connecting the fencing outside the police department,” AP reported.
This is not the first time minority residents of a neighborhood have worked to shut down riots and destructive efforts aimed at using anti-racism and anti-police brutality demonstrations as cover to instigate a confrontation with law enforcement. Last summer, black residents of Chicago gathered to demanded self-described “BLM” protesters, many of whom were white, leave their neighborhoods and stop defending rioters and looters.
Minneapolis is expecting unrest later this week, in the event a jury returns a not guilty verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing George Floyd back in May of last year — an incident that set off a wave of anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests nationwide, many of which eventually gave way to riots.
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