Community leaders throughout the city organized a coordinated response, which the police, military and disconnected elected officials never could. Widespread confusion created by decentralized sources of destruction all around the city required a carefully networked response that was grounded in trusted community relationships.

Leaders put out calls on social media and through their own networks, and more than 1,000 residents showed up for a public meeting in Powderhorn Park. They created a plan for community defense that got shared on Facebook almost 8,000 times and crashed the website of the organization that hosted it.

Using social media and text chains among many households, neighbors looked after neighbors. They swept their alleyways to find fire accelerants that outsiders had planted, and reported to one another boxes of kindling doused with gasoline. They sat on their porches, asking strangers to account for themselves, and checking on one another. A group of Somali women chased a cluster of suspicious white men out of the Karmel Mall. Local pastors organized people to protect local grocery stores. Some groups organizing to protect local businesses had to arm themselves, but their focus was on defense. Ashley Fairbanks, an Indigenous Anishinaabe activist, helped organize people to create their own fire patrols.