From Dec 2021 to Jun 2022, I worked in South Minneapolis, Minnesota on a high-threat armed security contract where we supported a local unarmed security team at a large private facility. In total, I completed three separate trips to Minnesota where I provided protection services for a city in distress. First, for the 2020 presidential election. Next, during the Derek Chauvin trial. With the sharp rise of violent crime, dwindling local security recruits, and the scarcity of police officers, our 16-man (8 day / 8 night) veteran travel-security team provided a unique blend of security and close-body coverage in a dynamic, unforgiving, urban environment. Our area of responsibility fell between a southern section of the city called “Little Mogadishu” and the infamous “George Floyd Square.” A surreal time in American history, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
As an objective observer in my own reality, I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in a storied mega-city that found itself center-mass in the BLM, ANTIFA, and Social Justice movements. This article is a tale of my personal experiences and observations while living and working in a three-ring city. Politics are irrelevant and won’t be a theme in this spectacle of a storyline. Join me in discovering the solemn tragedy of electric nights in a lawless city.
My life was threatened more times during that 6-month deployment to the land of 10,000 lakes than my 6-year stint as a Blackwater security contractor in Afghanistan. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined a combat deployment to the Middle East would feel safer than a work trip to a major American city.
Upon my arrival in Minneapolis, Afghanistan remained at the forefront of my thoughts due to an intense writing project I had undertaken that documented the explosive humanitarian crisis in the failed, war-torn, country. My writing took a back seat while I focused on thriving in South Minneapolis. I took daily notes with the intent to share the surreal story of my foray into the “Heart of the Beast.”
My teammates and I worked 12-hour shifts from 6p – 6a for 6 months. I welcomed the physical and mental strain of that mission. After a lifetime working in conflict zones, I found myself reveling in the stress and high-stakes minefield, as it has become my familiar comfort zone. Minneapolis soon became a leadership challenge to stress-test my seasoned combat chassis.
Before we dive in, it’s important to share a few housekeeping notes and relevant context for the story. While in MN, I used my Instagram as a rough draft storage yard to lay down interesting thoughts, safeguard poignant observations, and share striking pictures of the big-top circus city.
For mission safety, I never posted any pictures in real-time, nor did I post pictures at our Client facilities. To avoid local backlash over the content of my sharp words and perceived insensitive pictures, I portrayed myself online as a “self-funded” photojournalist documenting the human condition of life in the city. A half-truth to reduce the danger of our primary mission and safeguard my teammates. An armed security contractor who shed light on the ugliness of Minneapolis would, no doubt, initiate a call to cancel my accounts. In this era of cancel culture and emotion-driven actions, bad ideas tend to thrive in darkness.
A decade of service and 22 trips to fight didn’t prepare me for the horrors I witnessed while on this photojournalism tour in Minneapolis. For ten years, I devoted my life to serving the United States in the Middle East. I witnessed the brutality of war firsthand, experiencing it in the mountains of Afghanistan and on the roads of Iraq.
The horrors of warfare attack my senses, corrupt my memories, and altered my personality. They’re re-experienced in vivid technicolor while I lay quietly in my bed at night.
If I take a deep breath, I can still smell the metallic copper odor of human brains wafting through the dry Afghan desert air.
In a quiet room, I can still hear the blood-curdling screams of an 8-year-old Afghan boy as we tried to clean the mangled stumps and pockets where his hands and eyes used to be.
And if I close my eyes, I can still see a Company of Army Rangers sobbing and sniffling when Taps played the final salute to an untimely passing.
Horrors once reserved for hardened combat veterans have become the mainstay of Minneapolis. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The city has fallen. No one is coming to save you. Stand up. Turn off your T.V. and save yourselves. Welcome to the new dystopian nightmare city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Where up is down, right is wrong, and fairytale ideologies replace reality. The vacuum created by failed private businesses, defunding the police, and self-serving politicians, is filled with homeless drug addicts, schizophrenics, and violent predators.
The community doesn’t have to look like a rancid garbage pit. Your kids don’t have to read or see obscenities painted on their favorite cartoon characters. You shouldn’t have to walk through crowds of homeless people smoking crack, fentanyl, or any other poison in plain view of our most precious.
While on patrol during this curious project, I’d watch as bystanders cower and then avert their eyes at the sight of a friendly smile and a gentle wave from their professional uniformed protectors. Once the sun set, we didn’t dare stop at a red light or pause too long at a neighborhood stop sign. On average, 3 violent carjackings occurred every 2 nights. Due to the extensive amount of gunfire throughout the city, Minneapolis installed a wartime technology called “ShotSpotter” to triangulate the source of the gunfire.
Finding that shooter seemed irrelevant because the lack of law enforcement officers available forced the city to triage police response to the most heinous of crimes. New police recruits couldn’t cover the sheer volume of officers seeking employment elsewhere or retiring early. One brisk evening I called 911 because I found an elderly gentleman suffering from dementia wandering the streets past midnight. He carried heavy shopping bags, but the nearest grocery store was miles away. The temperature sunk to negative 10 degrees that night. Nobody ever answered my 911 call to help this displaced old man. The phone just rang and rang, then disconnected with a sharp silence. We loaded him up in our vehicle and drove him miles away from our area of responsibility to prevent him from freezing to death that night. That wasn’t the first, nor the last, life we saved in Minneapolis.
Two years after rioters burnt the 3rd police precinct to the ground, the neighboring 5th police precinct still bore the responsibility for covering both regions. While working with law enforcement and the local security team to coordinate efforts in the area, we’d receive routine updates on the strength or capabilities of the friendly neighboring forces. To my shock, some nights only 2 police officers covered the 3rd and 5th precincts combined.
Human beings aren’t supposed to live like this. Defecating on the sidewalk. Meth-fueled rabid sex in public spaces. Open air, unobstructed drug use. The saddest part about this tragedy is the children who bear witness to this debauchery while their parents pretend not to notice. They’ll step over the feces on the sidewalk or give a side-eye-smirk at the lude, meth-fueled couple having sex on the steps and exclaim, “Somebody should do something.”
Men like me volunteered for the front lines so the innocent and beautiful can remain innocent and beautiful. It’s the innocence we work so hard to preserve and why we are so quiet about what we did overseas. No amount of combat experience prepared me to live and work in a major American city devoid of the safeguards I fought so hard to protect.
Despite the environment or one’s chosen profession, complacency is a quiet killer with no discernment of skin color. While working on this Minneapolis project, I’ve met some fantastic, good-hearted Midwest people. Yet, failure to implement basic safeguards or precautions to preserve their lives left me bewildered. When one is submerged in lawlessness, it’s easy to become desensitized, complacent, or oblivious to the dystopian nightmare city in which they’re living in.
Worse yet, they’ve been duped into worshiping the deluge of propaganda that pours out of their TVs and Social Media sites. The “Orange man” is still their number one enemy while their children are being trafficked, sexualized, and exposed to filth.
While submerged in this lawless city, I couldn’t shake the feeling that, as a species, we’ve lost our way. We’ve lost our balance. Every day after shift, I meditated in my hotel room to the rising sun with the aim to re-balance my brain and cleanse my palate of this modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah. My heart goes out to the innocent families who are held captive in a city designed to destroy its citizens. The best kind of slaves are the ones who don’t know they’re slaves.
I can’t reminisce about my time in Minneapolis without writing a few words about George Floyd. I found his likeness painted large and small on buildings, benches, and bus stops. We worked about a mile and a half away from 38th St. and Chicago Ave, the intersection where Mr. Floyd passed away.
I answered my first summons to Minneapolis to provide security services during the 2020 presidential elections. When I arrived in the city, businesses still smoldered from the “Summer of Love.” While the battered citizens of Minneapolis held their collective breath for the imminent election results, I became a disaster tourist and wrote down everything I saw and experienced in the land of lawlessness. I remember feeling a charge of electricity in the air that made the hairs on my arms stand up.
One morning before the election, I took a tour of my first American autonomous zone. I parked my rental car on the ‘friendly’ side of the barricades and made sure to conceal my pistol as I approached the haphazard ANTIFA checkpoint. I scanned for sentries on my flanks while I strolled towards the fatal-funnel Brownshirt blockade. I jittered with subdued excitement when I approached my first civilian barricade on U.S. soil. I thought, “What a time to be alive!”
One guard met me at the entrance to the autonomous zone. A single soldier at a checkpoint during BMNT (Before Morning Nautical Twilight) is an elementary tactical blunder. We exchanged friendly-friction-banter about Donald Trump, the departed George Floyd, and Minneapolis PD; also known as, “Murderous Pig Department.”
She introduced herself with the numerical moniker of “Seven.” I wondered if her parents were Star Trek fans or if it was a silly pseudonym used during these surreal times. Our banter remained polite in an angry kind of way.
From head to toe, her oversized black tactical attire made her look like a low-budget Gotham City cosplay character. She wore an ill-fitting empty tactical vest with more useless pockets and pouches than I could count. She carried a Walmart walkie-talkie in one hand and a child’s playtime set of binoculars around her neck. If she wore a plastic Army helmet, she’d look like a 7-year-old boy’s prized Halloween costume; except it was November.
Her neon green hair and miniature stature distracted me from her morbid obesity. I felt sadness for this young woman who fell victim to high-level corporate manipulation and political exploitation. As an independent journalist and a curious combat veteran, I cherrypicked my intentions to gain access to their hallowed grounds and document my experiences. I entered the autonomous zone after regurgitating popular Liberal media talking points then rewording some of the anti-police graffiti I read while walking up to the chokepoint.
Months later, that same autonomous zone became off-limits for the team when two German tourists received small arms fire from elevated positions.
In our area of responsibility, I counted half a dozen scorched, empty lots, where family businesses once stood tall. Graffiti tags like, “ACAB,” “BLM,” and “Fuck 12” spawned like black mold in the night. Support for George Floyd ran through the citizens I encountered the same way Bostonians love their Red Sox. He became a local celebrity. To this day, I’m perplexed over the orchestrated manipulation and idolization of this convicted violent felon.
There are countless brilliant black men and women who would make fine role models for children of any color. While in Minnesota, I felt a sustained sadness over the lack of positive role models for the scores of fatherless children who turned to drugs and crime to pass the day away.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.” I wonder what MLK would say about present-day Minneapolis. Would he be labeled a ‘race trader’ or ‘Uncle Tom’ by the TV talking heads for advocating people be held accountable for their actions? Would he be silenced on social media for diverting from the scripted political narrative? Would he be proud of the legacy he’s created? I think not and that’s a tragedy.
A leader provides solutions to problems they present. I offer you a new black role model in place of the departed Mr. Floyd. Someone whose work has advanced the human race and created a brand-new field of scientific research.
Let me present to you, Dr. James Sylvester Gates. He’s a black theoretical physicist who primarily works on supergravity, superstring theory, and supersymmetry. All of which are subjects that make the baby hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
While solving mathematical equations to study quarks, leptons, and supersymmetry, Dr. Gates discovered something he never expected to find. He discovered computer code within the complex equations that described the fundamental elements of the Universe. Further, it was a particular type of computer code that can correct itself. That type of advanced technology is only found in internet browsers and Artificial Intelligence.
This discovery (along with others) led to the Simulation Theory Hypothesis, in which Dr. Gates postulates we are living in a computer simulation. How is this intriguing scientific discovery relevant to my Minnesota story?
Every night while running the roads of South Minneapolis, I saw larger-than-life murals of a convicted violent felon characterized with angel wings or with a divine halo while brilliant black men, like Dr. Gates, drift away into obscurity. This is the horror of a collapsed community of humans that have lost their way.
Located on the skirt of our area of responsibility, Chicago Lake Liquors may be one of the most well-known liquor stores in Minneapolis. This alcohol superstore is located a few blocks north of George Floyd Square and became center stage in the choreographed 2020 summer riots.
During the mayhem, a mob of frenzied criminals smashed the windows, emptied the shelves, and dragged the store’s 1,000-pound safe out the back door. Adjacent buildings raged with flames while the rioters used whatever tool they could scavenge to try and breach the safe. Their efforts to open the safe failed. However, their efforts to destroy their neighborhood and terrify the innocent citizens of Minneapolis excelled.
Pictured is the front door of Chicago Lake Liquors with a gentle reminder of the slow creep of Communism within the United States.
If you spend your energy looking for negativity in your surroundings; then that’s all you’ll find. I hope the risk I’ve taken and the experiences I endured show you the outcome of a lawless city that’s electrified with emotion. It’s easy for me to focus on the darkness because I was immersed in it. It’s a challenge to see the flower pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk when there’s a homeless person having an overdose on the very same sidewalk. Nevertheless, the flower is still present.
Scott “Longboard” Chapman served in 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment from 2001-2005. He deployed to Iraq during the 2003 invasion and then to the Afghan theatre 4 times. After the military, Scott worked in the executive protection space and then as an OGA security contractor. Providing security support to the Intelligence community where he deployed 17 times; mostly to the Forward Operating Bases (FOB). He provided security support for Intelligence personnel and operations. Scott continues to work in the contract security area.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.