Minneapolis, MN – An armed security force, the MN Freedom Fighters, are now a regular sight providing security at protests and patrolling Broadway Avenue.
It started via a call out for a community patrol group for the Northside from Minneapolis NAACP’s President, Leslie Redmond, a few days after the George Floyd uprising began.
As riots swept through many Twin Cities neighborhoods in late May, the destruction reached the Northside. Within two days, organized and armed community patrols protected houses from arson, the community from threats of the police, and suspected racists looking to take advantage of the situation.
The MN (Minnesota) Freedom Fighters, originally MN Freedom Riders, recently renamed their group so as to not be confused with the Minnesota Freedom Riders of the 1960s.
The 2020 era Freedom Fighters call themselves an independent “elite security unit” dedicated to protecting “the citizens and businesses of the Twin Cities urban areas.”
“We don’t want to be the police, we are not the police. But, we want to protect our community and our people from the police and from threats.” — Newz, MN Freedom Fighters
Their objective is “not to be the police, but [to be] the bridge to link the police and the community together.”
Being “the bridge” means they are not trying to replace the police and they made that clear when speaking with Unicorn Riot on June 19 at a Juneteenth Celebration on the Northside of Minneapolis and also on June 26 after a march for Breonna Taylor on the Southside. The following videos are excerpts of their interviews.
On May 30, a statement made by the Minneapolis NAACP about the formation of the Freedom Fighters mentioned protecting the community and supporting protesters:
“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.” — NAACP MPLS
A few dozen volunteers answered the call out for a patrol unit to protect the community, many of them not knowing the others.
Newz, well-known artist and member of the Freedom Fighters, said the “riots and the arsonists and the KKK and white supremacists were around here and we had to come together as a community.”
In the early stages, the Freedom Fighters had gotten the ‘green light’ from Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo to patrol the streets with weapons and were given the go-ahead to apprehend people. After they apprehend anyone, they wait for police, whom they have contact with.
“We witnessed shootings – like, white hoods riding past shooting at people.” — Newz, MN Freedom Fighters
Newz said that he didn’t want to go into “grave detail” about some of the “unbelievable” things he had seen during the uprising but said he saw people starting fires (causing them to apprehend one of them, he said), throwing rocks, looting, and he said they saw suspected white supremacists shooting guns from their cars while driving down the street.
After the variety of threats that came with the uprising ceased, the Freedom Fighters, with the support of the community, decided to stick to their efforts and after over a month in service they say they are here to stay.
“[The community is] counting on us more than the police. They actually can call us instead of the police because they feel more safe with us.” — Newz, MN Freedom Fighters
Another member, Fox, shared a horrific personal story of Klansmen in North Carolina burning his grandmother alive as well as his family church. His past plays an important part in who he is today, he said.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) June 19, 2020
Fox said that his involvement with the Freedom Fighters has been life changing.
“For me to be here is one of the most uplifting yet redefining experiences I’ve ever had in my life.” — Fox, MN Freedom Fighters
Though the Freedom Fighters have their nucleus on the Northside, they’re seeking to form another team over South and some in different neighborhoods in St. Paul.