|Posted by JJ The Psychotherapist on April 19, 2021 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
Following more than a week of protests in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis, Minnesota, a coalition of predominantly black people is working together to hold the peace, fueled in part by "anti-fascist" elements that have escalated demonstrations against racism and police violence into riots.
According to The Associated Press, the group calls itself the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, and although heavily armoured and, in some cases, armed, they claim to be there to maintain the peace between police and demonstrators and ensure that protests do not turn violent.
“A group of Black men joined the crowd intent on keeping the peace and preventing protests from escalating into violence as protests intensified in the Minneapolis suburb where a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright,” the outlet said.
The Associated Press added, "The Black men at the crowd's edge 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 group's Facebook page shows members posing with assault-style guns and identifies itself as a "elite security team," but the Freedom Fighters didn't appear to be armed on Friday and said they only wanted to promote peaceful protesting."
The group wears a uniform and wears yellow badges, and they coordinate with one another from various locations throughout the demonstrations, working to prevent aggressive and disruptive events until they attract police attention.
The Associated Press reported that "as several people began to rattle a fence protecting the Brooklyn Center police department, the Freedom Fighters communicated with each other over walkie-talkies." “On recent nights, the Freedom Fighters have moved through the crowd in formation, dressed in body armor and dark clothing, weaving past demonstrators holding umbrellas to create separation along a double-layer perimeter security fence. Their nonviolent tactics are meant to de-escalate tensions by preventing agitators from going forward and provoking the law enforcement officers stationed at the ready with pepper-ball and less-lethal sponge grenade launchers.
“We can keep it peaceful,” one of the group's members told the media, adding that the brutality and provocation distract from the demonstrators' overall message. “There's always someone in the group who wants to stir up trouble.”
While the Minnesota Freedom Fighters avoided blaming "Antifa," or "anti-Fascist" demonstrators, many of whom are white, The Associated Press reports that the Freedom Fighters have clashed with black-clad agitators who want to incite violence.
“Umbrella-carrying demonstrators intent on provoking law enforcement officers clashed with the Freedom Fighters this week. Members of the organization “removed a group of demonstrators who attempted to cut the chains connecting the fencing outside the police department on Saturday,” according to the Associated Press.
This isn't the first time that minority residents of a neighborhood have worked to prevent protests and violent efforts aimed at inciting a conflict with law enforcement by using anti-racism and anti-police brutality demonstrations as cover. Last summer, black Chicago residents gathered to demand the self-described "BLM" demonstrators, many of whom were white, leave their communities and avoid protecting rioters and looters.
In the event that a jury returns a not guilty verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing George Floyd in May of last year — an incident that sparked a national wave of anti-racism and anti-police brutality demonstrations, many of which ultimately devolved into riots — Minneapolis is bracing for violence later this week.