The Minneapolis City Council has approved an $800,000 payout to settle a lawsuit related to the arrest of members of the Freedom Fighters, a grassroots security group, amid the violence following Winston Smith's 2021 killing.

As part of the settlement approved 13-0 on Thursday by the City Council, Mayor Jacob Frey will apologize in person to the men, their attorney said Friday.

The arrests were wrong, the eight men alleged in a 2022 federal lawsuit, because they were on the streets trying to keep the peace and "doing exactly what Minneapolis city officials asked them to do."

The Freedom Fighters is a militia of sorts that provides unpaid security during unrest. It's one of several largely Black groups that have been established in Minneapolis to provide security — members have uniforms and carry AR-style rifles — and a buffer between police and protesters who are targeting police. As a predictable pattern of protests, including arson and violence, emerged after police shootings of Black men, many city and community leaders came to rely on such unofficial teams.

The men were arrested during rioting in Uptown on June 4, 2021, a day after a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force shot and killed Smith, a 32-year-old Black man with an outstanding weapons warrant.

The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension concluded Smith fired at police, and prosecutors ultimately cleared the officers of wrongdoing. But there were no body cameras, and in the immediate aftermath of his killing — just over a year after George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer — some decried Smith's killing and took to the streets.

Minneapolis public safety officials, including senior police officials, put out a call for grassroots security groups — including the Freedom Fighters — to assist in quelling any violence, according to the lawsuit.

Late that night, a group of rioters lit a dumpster on fire and rolled it into the street near Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, about a half block from where the Freedom Fighters were standing watch. A group of police officers arrived and, even though some of them initially acknowledged the Freedom Fighters as having a legitimate role in keeping order, surrounded the group and arrested the men, the suit alleges. They were released the next day.

After a closed-door discussion with city attorneys Thursday, City Council members unanimously approved the settlement — $100,000 to each man and a yet-to-be determined payment of legal fees — without discussion.

Fred Goetz, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said that in addition to those terms, Frey will personally apologize to the men in a private meeting. He said the city's acknowledgment that the arrests were wrongful and the apology are significant.

"That's important because the Freedom Fighters want to continue to be part of the city's efforts to provide public safety," Goetz said Friday.