An armed security force is now a regular sight at protests & patrolling certain streets.
Their objective is “not to be the police, but [to be] the bridge to link the police & the community together.”
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) July 24, 2020
For Romeal Taylor, 28, who works as an overnight security guard at a local hotel, owning a gun has always been about personal protection. For the last six years, he’s carried a firearm with him anytime he goes out in public. He understands he can be viewed as a threat, but he’s also a trained and proud gun owner.
“There is a lot going on out here in the world,” he said. “I would rather have a gun and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Days after Floyd was killed, Taylor said, he heard from neighbors in north Minneapolis about a call to action for licensed gun owners to protect local businesses from vandalism and destruction. The call resonated with him, he said, because he had been frustrated to see people he didn’t recognize from his neighborhood destroying buildings.
“These weren’t Black folks,” he said. “These were outsiders truly intent on destroying this city.”
The [Minnesota Freedom Fighters’] headquarters was Sammy’s Avenue Eatery along a bustling thoroughfare.
It’s where Taylor met Randy Chrisman and other local Black gun owners like himself. Chrisman, who lives in the suburbs, read the NAACP call to action on Facebook and showed up at the cafe.
“It’s been a brotherhood ever since,” said Chrisman, who has had his concealed carry permit for nearly a decade and typically carries his handgun with him.
“You just never know when something is going to happen,” he said. “As a Black man, I have the same rights as others to also carry a firearm and I do it.”