As the annual Kentucky Derby took place Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky, a myriad of activists, many of them armed, took to the streets.
A coalition of armed pro-Trump and militia activists marched to City Hall in the morning, where they were confronted by armed antifascist and antiracist counter-protesters.
The group was led by Dylan Stevens, who styles himself and his followers as the “Angry Viking” militia.
“Back the blue,” his group chanted as they entered, in reference to the police.
“Fuck the blue,” replied counter-protesters.
The situation briefly escalated into shouting and violence. During a few pushing matches, activists opposing the “Angry Viking” militia and their supporters unholstered handguns.
No shots were fired.
Following about an hour of confrontation, “Angry Viking” militia leader Dylan Stevens declared “we’re leaving.”
citing the fact that activists counter-protesting them had been out in that area for over three months.
“Apparently, this group has been out for 101 days,” said Stevens. “Honestly, I had no clue about it.”
“No justice! No Derby! No justice! No Derby!” chanted the counter-protesters.
Police entered the area in a riot formation once the “Militia Viking” group had already departed from the area.
The “NFAC” marches to the Kentucky Derby
The all-Black “Not Fucking Around Coalition” aka “NFAC” militia gathered at Wyandotte Park on Saturday afternoon, just a few blocks away from Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby. The group espouses Black nationalist ideology, but specifically rallies in Louisville to demand that the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor be arrested.
Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old black woman shot and killed by police officers in a no-knock raid on her home by the Louisville Police Department in March. The shooting sparked nationwide protests. One officer has been fired, but none have been charged.
The NFAC injured three members last month in an accidental discharge when they also gathered in Louisville.
“Under no circumstances will you chamber a round,” said John Fitzgerald Johnson, who leads the NFAC under the pseudonym “Grandmaster Jay.”
“Our rules of engagement are very simple,” he told his group before the march. “Under no circumstances will you point your weapon at anyone, unless they point at you first. If they do, don’t shoot them. Kill them.”
As the group – each member bearing at least one rifle or shotgun – marched toward Churchill Downs, chants of “say her name, Breonna Taylor!” broke out in the formation.
Johnson instructed the group to pause and kneel.
“NFAC does not chant,” he said. “We don’t do none of that shit, so if you’re NFAC, I don’t want to hear that bullshit.”
When the NFAC arrived at Churchill Downs itself, a fence had already been erected to keep activists on the opposite side of the street. As the Kentucky Derby began, riot police stood across the street closer to the horse race itself.
Johnson approached the gate to speak directly to police.
“If you could kill me right now, you know your ass would,” Grandmaster Jay told officers. “Take your shot.”
“You said I’m your worst nightmare,” he told them. “Black male, could energize the Black nationalist movement. Listen to this.”
He then led the group in a “Black power” chant.
Until Freedom, another group demanding that Breonna Taylor’s killers be arrested, also arrived at Churchill Downs to protest.
Struggling to keep the two groups separate, the NFAC instead marched away early.
Following the event, Grandmaster Jay told reporters why only he speaks to the media and the rest of his members remain anonymous.
“The United States has a history of hunting down and killing black organizations,” he said. “So therefore, as much as some people want to be in the spotlight, everyone who has stepped where I am standing has been shot and killed. Everyone.”
“So this time I’m protecting the members by not letting you see who they are,” he added.
“If you kill me, there is someone already in my place.”
Ford Fischer is an independent news videographer, editor, filmmaker, and the editor-in-chief of News2Share. His work has been included in four Emmy-winning films. He co-founded and designed News2share.com as an engine for independent videographers and citizen journalists to contribute to the evolving news cycle. He is available for hire as a freelance videographer/journalist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org