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[Little Earth Protectors]

Little Earth Protectors

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Organization: Little Earth Protectors

Little Earth Protectors is a neighborhood public safety group that organizes a nightly community patrol that assists residents with disputes that arise, monitors police activity, and helps with drug-related medical emergencies among other things.

“Around 9 o’clock several nights a week, 20 or more men and women ranging from teenagers to seniors stand in a circle in silence by the footbridge. They light sage and ‘smudge,’ waving the burning herb across their bodies to ward off negative emotions and cleanse their minds. They stick pieces of cedar leaves in their shoes for good fortune. Then they’re off to walk Little Earth.”1

The Little Earth Protectors patrol the community of the Little Earth of United Tribes, a housing complex in the East Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis. The patrols have at least twelve people, with more joining in as the night goes on. They wear black T-shirts that identify them as community protectors and coordinate between patrol locations with walkie-talkies.

Patrol volunteers offer supplies to the community (hand sanitizer, snacks and water, gunshit wound first-aid kits, Naloxone, etc.), and are on hand to mediate verbal and non-verbal disputes that arise during the night. They also fund lights for the local park, monitor dozens of security cameras throughout the community, and use their presence to discourage drug trade on corners, discourage sex work in the parking lot, and monitor local police activity.

Protector Jacki Nadeau describes their work with local gangmembers: “The cops asked how we did it. We just went and stood under the bridge and the kids respected that. And we fed them dinner. The Protectors are on scene all the time. The police just sit around in their cars, waiting for something bad to happen.”1

What do communities do when the police retreat?, Robert Klemko, Washington Post, April 23, 2021
Little Earth patrols might be a preview of a new style of policing. Megan Burhs and Kathryn Styer Martinez, MPR News, July 27, 2020.