MINNEAPOLIS — 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.