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‘Self-Defense is Not a Dirty Word’: Armed Citizens Face Official Backlash Over Hartford Patrols

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Hartford, Connecticut is a deep-blue city in a Democrat-dominated state, but officials haven’t managed to kill off support for the right to keep and bear arms. In fact, one group of citizens is patrolling some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods while armed; both for their self-defense and to keep the community safe. 

Cornell Lewis and the “Self-Defense Brigade” have been conducting their armed neighborhood watch for several months now, and Lewis says he has no plans of stopping despite the condemnation by the mayor and others.

When the armed volunteers are not on the streets, the group monitors video feeds from a dozen drones hovering over the neighborhood, and 75 home surveillance cameras in the neighborhood. 

“The Democratic machine in Hartford is either unwilling or unable, incapable of doing it, and people are paying their tax dollars, and they’re not really getting any kind of service,” Lewis told Fox News. “So we want the people to understand, number one, self-defense is not a dirty word.” 

Hartford’s Democratic Mayor Arunan Arulampalam has denounced the group over concerns they will enact vigilante justice.

“Our community has seen so much pain and trauma, and what we need is for those who love this city to do the hard work of healing that pain, not walk around our streets with guns trying to take the law into their own hands,” Arulampalam said in a statement to Fox.

These armed citizens aren’t “taking the law into their own hands”. They’re exercising their right to bear arms in self-defense and in defense of their community. In fact, Lewis says it was a community call to arms, so to speak, that launched the Self-Defense Brigade earlier this year. 

The group began patrolling the neighborhood at the behest of Archbishop Dexter Burke of the Walk in the Light Church of God. A shooting in February left two men dead near his church and he had enough. 

“I feel that we are really putting a dent on crime,” Burke said. “I think that we’ve exceeded 100% in terms of success.”

Burke says having community members invested in the neighborhood patrol combats the anti-snitch culture in Black neighborhoods.

As for concerns that this is nothing more than armed vigilantes, Burke points to the use of cameras.

The body worn cameras and drones, he says, are meant to provide evidence of crimes to be turned over to police, but the cameras also provide protection to the volunteer members of the group.

The Self-Defense Brigade isn’t going around looking for a fight. They haven’t been involved in any shootouts with gang members, carjackers, or drug dealers. According to Lewis, everyone exercising their right to carry as they patrol the streets is a licensed gun owner, so they’re not breaking any laws either.

If they were conducting their neighborhood patrols unarmed, I have a sneaking suspicion that the mayor would have nothing but praise for the Self-Defense Brigade. But because they’re daring to exercise their Second Amendment rights, Arulampalam labels them vigilantes who are just looking for trouble. 

The mayor should climb down from his high horse and head out on patrol with Lewis and other Hartford residents. Maybe that would help him see the issue of crime and public safety from their perspective, and talking with dozens of legal gun owners might even give him a better appreciation for the importance of the Second Amendment… or at least help him to understand why so many concerned citizens are keeping a watchful eye on their neighborhoods, and are unwilling to do so unless they can defend themselves and their neighbors. 

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