‘1992 Roof Koreans’ segue into ‘2020 Roof Mexicans’
And we now come to the times when Americans have their own version of ‘Auto Defensas‘, which, when you get right down to it, isn’t such a bad idea anyway.
Cesia Baires knocks on the three apartment doors above her restaurant and a neighboring taqueria just before curfew.
A woman opens the door. Her two young children are inside.
“Remember,” she says to them in Spanish. “Same thing as yesterday. I’m going to come check on you. If there’s anything you guys need, give us a call right away.”
Meanwhile, a few men climb through the window and on to the roof to set up semi-automatic weapons as the curfew begins in Minneapolis. It’s something Baires never thought she would have to do as a small-business owner, but then she found out these apartments were occupied.
“Material things we can replace, that’s true,” she says. “But there are families up here. These aren’t empty buildings.”
As break-ins and fires raged in the first days of mass protests over the killing of yet another black man in an encounter with police, the city seemed to descend into a security vacuum. She says the police disappeared from this neighborhood. That’s when she and others started forming patrols to include people with licensed weapons.
“I’m the one that’s checking everyone,” she says. “If you’re up here with a gun and you’re not supposed to be here and you don’t have a license to carry, then I don’t allow you to even go to the rooftop. Only people with guns are on the rooftop.”
But is this a path to vigilante justice?
“It’s not something that I would want, but we’ve seen how, for at least the first couple days, we were left alone,” she says. “There were no cops that would come around. So what are we to do? Just stand there and do nothing?”
Her group — Security Latinos De La Lake — is one of many neighborhood watch groups sprouting up across the Twin Cities and in other parts of the country as dozens of mostly peaceful protests continue every day, sometimes in the face of violence from law enforcement: tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray. The Twin Cities have largely calmed, but Baires says she wasn’t even able to get through to 911 until Monday.
When asked about the lack of police presence, a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said in an email that the department is facing an “unprecedented situation.” He added that citizens who need help should call 911. The department is also aware of these neighborhood groups. In fact, the police chief and officers have met with some, and the department is not concerned as long as they’re following the law………..