NEWS.YAHOO.COM September 21, 2020 – Before he drove to the grocery store parking lot, Romeal Taylor did the same thing he’s done every day this summer — he holstered his 9-millimeter handgun to the waistband of his gym shorts until he could feel it hug his right hip.
When he arrived at the store in north Minneapolis he spotted six other Black men, some in tactical gear, armed with Glock 23s and Smith & Wesson M&Ps. One of them beamed when he spotted Taylor and hugged him.
“Bro, good to see you,” Taylor said, muffled through a face mask.
They had come together for a meet-and-greet to introduce themselves to the community, marking one of the first public gatherings of the Minnesota Freedom Fighters.
The ad hoc group of about two dozen men — including a retired firefighter, a healthcare worker and a veteran — formed in the days after George Floyd’s killing in response to the local NAACP chapter putting out a call for residents in predominantly Black north Minneapolis to protect small businesses from destruction as fires and unrest engulfed the city.
Heeding the call, the men — who would meet at a local cafe — stood watch outside small businesses for several nights in late May and early June. More recently, they have patrolled neighborhoods, offering security to protesters, and have been in regular communication with city officials about protests they plan to attend.
“It’s important to have men from the community step up for the community,” said Sasha Cotton, director of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention. “It’s their right to be out on the streets and it’s commendable. There are Black residents who in the early days of the unrest felt vulnerable … and still do.”
Cotton said the Freedom Fighters have also met with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who is Black, and they’re in touch with precinct commanders. [full article]