Some self-proclaimed "heavily armed rednecks" have been standing guard both with and against looters in Minneapolis, amid protests over the death of George Floyd. Two bearded men brandishing rifles spoke with Minnesota Reformer reporter Max Nesterak outside of a tobacco shop and explained that they support the mostly peaceful protests that have been taking place, but they do not support the riots have that also sparked.
"Basically you see the records that cops keep. And cops are a lot less likely to try and tread on people’s rights when there’s other armed Americans with them," one of the men explained. "I figured it’s about damn time that some heavily armed rednecks stood with fellow citizens." A second man told Nesterak that he and a friend have been going around to help store owners who need help with looters. "It turns out these guys are out here with machetes and shattered windows trying to keep looters out of the businesses ’cause cops can’t get in here," the man said. He added, "So I figured before there were cops, there were just Americans, so here we are." The man added that, from his perspective, the "bottom line" is that he wants "justice for Floyd" and he also hopes "they stop looting at some point."
These guys say they support the protests but not the looting. Showed up to help this tobacco store owner stop people from breaking in pic.twitter.com/x2FMQiQwVK— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) May 28, 2020
The protests and riots rose out of anger in the community over the death of Floyd, which came after police officers placed him under arrest on suspicion of "forgery," and one of the officers knelt on Floyd's neck to keep him subdued. The office was later identifed as 19-year Minneapolis police force veteran Derek Chauvin. He and the three other officers involved — Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng — have all since been fired.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called for criminal charges to brought against all the men, saying that he believes that Floyd would "be alive today if he were white," Frey added, "I'm not a prosecutor, but let me be clear, the arresting officer killed someone." In a separate press conference, Frey added, "This man's life matters, he matters. He was someone's son, someone's family member, someone's friend. He was a human being, and his life mattered." At this time, no criminal charges have been brought against the officers.