The Second Amendment guarantees every American the right to bear arms. But residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota, are fearing for their lives as a group of Freedom Fighters roams the streets armed with AR-15 rifles. Because a Minnesota police officer killed an unarmed Black man, Black people no longer feel safe in the city. That’s why a group of about two dozen Black men answered a call from the NAACP to help protect the Black community.

Armed with AR-15 rifles, Glocks, and their Second Amendment right, these Black men are patrolling the streets of Minneapolis in lieu of the police force. The Freedom Fighters wear bulletproof vests and bandanna masks to identify themselves as the renegade group.

Because the Minneapolis police department was exposed to perpetuating systemic racism, city officials call the Black Freedom Fighters “commendable” men for standing their ground and protecting their community.

But not everyone is happy that these men are armed with AR-15s and are patrolling Minneapolis alongside the police force.

However, the Minnesota Freedom Fighters – a militia group – formed in late May after George Floyd was murdered in their city. Because the city’s north neighborhood, which is home to a predominantly Black population, felt threatened instead of protected by the police department, the Freedom Fighters formed the militia to keep Black people safer.

“It’s important to have men from the community step up for the community,” Sasha Cotton, director of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, told the Los Angeles Times. “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.”

The Freedom Fighters are heroes outside of the militia group as well. One man is a retired firefighter, another is a frontline healthcare worker, while another (a veteran) risked his life as a member of the United States military. Although these men are not part of the police department, they have had a direct line with city officials. This means that their location and actions are monitored closely.

After civil unrest calmed down in Minneapolis, city officials gave the Minnesota Freedom Fighters their blessing to continue their protective watch over the city’s Black community. The group has also established a friendly connection with precinct commanders and the Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo (who is Black).

Members of the group are not afraid of the police because they are just another layer of security for the Black community. They are not trying to replace the police department.

“Our objective is not to be the police, but the bridge to link the police and the community together,” reads the mission statement of the Minnesota Freedom Fighters.

When the NAACP issued a call for protection, they wanted the group to also protect Black heritage.

The statement said: “We are creating a network of people who will disseminate information through relational organizing (an information tree), support on the ground protestors through giving rides from the protests, giving first-aid help, and protect black heritage sites from destruction.”

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