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To Save Black Lives, Protester Bruce Franks Will Do the Unthinkable: Work with Cops 

Can he really reform law enforcement from within?

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Paul Muhammad first saw Bruce Franks as just another hothead Ferguson protester.

"At that point," Muhammad says, "he wanted to turn up and tear shit up."

Franks had driven up to Ferguson the morning after Brown's death without knowing why. He wasn't into politics.

That changed after a few nights of tear gas. "THERE IS A WAR BEING WAGED UPON US," he wrote on Facebook on August 29. "IF THERE IS NO JUSTICE, I WILL SHOW YOU EXACTLY WHAT NO PEACE LOOKS LIKE."

A regular on the frontlines, Franks ran into Muhammad, who had co-founded the Ferguson Peacekeepers, an informal clique that stood as a "buffer of love" between cops and protesters so the latter could vent without putting themselves or others at risk. Noting Muhammad's poise in tense moments, Franks asked to join.

"If you're gonna put on this hoodie," Muhammad told him, "you have to be a de-escalator and watch out for agitators. We're with the movement, but if they're throwing rocks and bottles, you need to step to those people." Franks agreed.

Yet even the Peacekeepers couldn't always keep the peace.

At about 11:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve, a police officer fatally shot eighteen-year-old Antonio Martin at a Mobil gas station in suburban Berkeley. Surveillance footage would later reveal that Martin raised a gun at the officer. But the hundreds of people who quickly converged didn't know that yet. Things got ugly fast.

The Peacekeepers arrived and tried to soothe tensions, but when police started to arrest one of them, both Muhammad and Franks intervened. In the melee, police brought them to the pavement, pepper sprayed and arrested them.

Franks had bloody cuts on his face and leg. He was jailed for several hours on charges of resisting arrest, interfering with arrest and assault on a law-enforcement officer.

Four days later, he again wrote on Facebook: "ITSTIMEWEFIGHTBACK!!!"

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