FEATURE: Native Americans Stand Up To Protect Own District In Protest-Hit Minneapolis

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 31st May, 2020) Native Americans in the US city of Minneapolis have taken matters into their own hands after protests over the death in custody of unarmed black man George Floyd morphed into rioting that left many buildings burned and looted.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has authorized a "full mobilization" of the National Guard, something that has never been done in the state's history, after admitting that rioters outnumbered the local police force.

A Sputnik correspondent spoke to American Indians in the Minneapolis minority neighborhood who have been out in the streets for several nights to protect the community from looters.

A dozen Native American men and women covered in blankets sit on folding chairs in the middle of what was once a busy street, far from the fires that have been burning for days in downtown Minneapolis.

"This an American Indian Center. It is also where the American Indian Movement started. The movement started here, and they founded this building here, and it means a lot to the whole community," a man who gave his name as Jerry says.

Jerry, who holds his wife in his lap, says they have been protecting their community from looters for two straight nights. They have a massive flashlight that they shine on trespassers whenever they get too close.

"Just having a presence makes a big difference. We ain't got to threaten nobody. We are just sitting out here and the looters are keeping their distance," the man says.

Minneapolis police have been shunning the streets lately after violent protesters targeted them for attacks. An ex-policeman has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over his role in Floyd's death.

The state's National Guard has been dealing with the rioters, but their presence is mostly visible in the city center, while the Native American community has been left to fend for itself.

Jerry dodges the question of what they will do if things get dangerous in the neighborhood. The watchers have radios, he says, and "will do whatever we have to do."

Sputnik has talked to Michael Goze, a Native American elder who runs the American Indian Community Development Corporation in Minneapolis. He points out numerous buildings owned by the corporation.

"This is our community. Nobody is gonna protect us. We had people who came from Iowa to be here tonight. We have people from Wisconsin, my tribe. I had people come from there to help us," he says.

Goze explains that the neighborhood has been run by his people since their relocation in the 1950-1960s.

"Last night we lost one place because it was on Lake Street. It was our organization's building. It was a youth-serving program. It was run for 40 years and it burned down," Goze says matter-of-factly.

A girl named Jay says the community has collected more than $100,000 over 12 hours to restore the gutted youth center.

Parts of Lake Street have been ravaged by protesters who clashed with police in riot gear for several nights. A hundred of small businesses have been ransacked, store windows shattered and buildings set alight.

The elder has called in volunteers via Facebook to join the area's defense group. Some of them have guns and concealed carry permits.

"Yesterday we had over a hundred. Today we had more than that. All night long. In different places," he adds.

A table with hamburgers and hot dogs has been set up in front of a small building in Lake Street that belongs to the corporation. Next to it stand crates of iced water. Nearby sit several native Americans holding bats.

Goze says they deliver the food to those protecting the neighborhood but also to protesters. Looters are not welcome.