On July 25, John Fitzgerald "Grandmaster Jay" Johnson, Commander of the “Not Fucking Around Coalition” Black militia, vowed on the steps of Louisville’s Metro Hall that if “the truth” was not released about Breonna Taylor’s death “in four weeks,” they would return to “Burn this motherfu***r down.” The clock is ticking. August 25 is next Tuesday.
Louisville is sitting on the knifes edge. Was Grandmaster Jay (GMJ) talking smack he can’t back up, or is Louisville headed for a showdown that could result in confrontations between the NFAC and Louisville police or NFAC and armed white militias? And what of Louisville’s local Black community and activists who have waged a relentless struggle to win justice for Breonna Taylor? Will they just be standing on the sidelines of this episode or get caught in the middle of the fray?
At this juncture, only one thing about Louisville’s gathering storm is clear: Grandmaster Jay and the NFAC are controlling the clock. They have named the time and place of battle, and presumably the choice of weapons. New Black Nationalists are not clairvoyant, but we don’t think Commander GMJ is bluffing; neither do Louisville’s ruling authorities.
Our assessment is that Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron will announce a prosecution of at least one of the three LPD officers involved in the execution of Breonna Taylor by September 1, 2020. Taylor was killed in a hail of gunfire in which three LPD officers in plain clothes used a battering ram to invade her apartment in executing a bogus “no knock warrant” for a suspected drug dealer already being held in custody. Neither Taylor or her boyfriend who was in the apartment, and engaged the officers with return fire had a police record or drug arrest.
New Black Nationalists believe charges will be pressed because the killing of Breonna Taylor was an unjust an indefensible action by Louisville police. The authorities don’t want to indict one of their own, but a sacrificial lamb must be placed on the alter to push Louisville back off the brink of descending into civil chaos.
National and international condemnation of Louisville’s police force and city administration continues to mount. The threat of five hundred or more “Not Fucking Around Coalition” armed Black militia marching into midst of Louisville’s powder keg is just too much dry tinder exposed to flammable agents.
Add to the equation the certainty that the white “Three Percent” militia, who surfaced in “full kit” on June 25, will also return to show their colors if the NFAC is in town. What you potentially have is a highly combustible mix in search of a match or an accident.
It’s worth recalling that during the June 25 march, one of the NFAC militiamen’s rifle accidently discharged, causing three of its members to be hospitalized with gunshot wounds. That incident set off a deluge of Twitter jokes that the NFAC was the militia that couldn’t shoot straight or had proverbially shot itself in the foot.
Notwithstanding the humor, the accidental discharge could have mistakenly set off return fire from police or the attending white militia. Protesters scrambled for cover when the rifle reports echoed across the plaza.
The “Three Percent” white militia Commander Tara Brandeau said they were there to “make sure things remain calm and nothing happens,” as if they were an auxiliary police force unit. To her credit, Brandeau refused to be goaded by the press into making inflammatory statements against the NFAC. She defended the NFAC’s right to bear arms and their right to free speech.
That being said, the NFAC, continues to turn up the heat. On August 15, Commander GMJ announced, that if the State of Kentucky has not acted on Breonna Taylor’s killing, their demonstration will occur on September 5, the rescheduled date of the world-famous Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville.
Grand Master Jay has succeeded in expanded and tilting the battlefield in his favor by placing Kentucky and Louisville’s most prestigious and economically lucrative event in the crosshairs of a potentially explosive racial conflagration. At all cost, Kentucky’s bluegrass and bourbon elite rulers want to avoid international exposure of the gratuitous violence visited on Black bodies by local law enforcement and sanctioned by the state machinery.
In response to these growing pressures. on August 13, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said “I think if we can get more information ... on exactly where (the investigation) is and what’s going on and what the next steps are, I think that will help. I don’t think this should extend another month unless we understand some very compelling reason.”
On que, Commander GMJ responded, saying “Yep, and that’s good that the governor says that because we share that sentiment with the governor also. We’re hoping, we’re hopeful, that that’s what’s going to happen. If not, then we too will be attending the Kentucky Derby.”
Another sign that charges may be on the horizon soon is the Taylor family and their Attorney Ben Crump holding their first meeting with Kentucky Attorney General Cameron. After the meeting, Crump said he “absolutely” expects there to be charges in the case. According to Attorney General Cameron, his office is still waiting on ballistic evidence reports from the FBI. Thus far, of the three LPD officers involved, only Det. Brent Hankison has been fired. Det. Myles Cosgrove and Sergeant Jonathon Mattingly remain on duty.
While the high-profile standoff brewing between the NFAC and the state is moving inexorably toward a showdown, the local struggle of Louisville residents to win Justice for Breonna Taylor has been as tough as any city protesting police brutality in the country other than Portland.
Like Portland, Louisville’s conditions raise significant questions about how BLM will work with more radical groups supporting their struggle against state sanctioned violence, but advancing a more revolutionary agenda that conflicts with BLM’s reformist tendencies.
For two months, in the 95% white city of Portland, longtime local anarchists and the Pacific Northwest Youth Revolutionary Front have engaged in kinetic civil disobedience against police and federal stormtroopers dispatched by Trump. Those nightly clashes threatened to overwhelm Black Lives Matter's focus on police refund and defunding. Despite their differences, Portland BLM supporters worked out their issues with their radical allies and continued to articulate their message.
Similarly, in Louisville, local activists have taken to the streets 75 days since Breonna Taylor’s death. Gunfire erupted at a demonstration earlier this spring, hospitalizing several protesters. Popular barbeque stand owner David McAtee was shot and killed on June 1, when Louisville police and the National Guard engaged in an exchange of fire while supposedly clearing a crowded parking lot after midnight.
Louisville’s co-founder and leader since 2016 is 40-year old Chanelle Helm, a hard-nosed and controversial leader. Helm has reportedly spearheaded efforts to demand local small businesses have hiring quotas of Blacks, contribute funds to black groups. But, when it comes to street protests and mobilizing the masses to action, she is always in the trenches.
As the struggle in Louisville sharpens, and a decision on charging the LPD officers who assassinated Breonna Taylor draws near, the authorities are cracking down. All demonstrations have been restricted to public sidewalks and all traffic stops must be observed.
On the weekend of August 8-9, and on Saturday, August 15, police carried our arrests charging downtown protesters with everything from illegally blocking traffic to felony riot. Louisville police have also staged Blu-Flu sick out days with as many as twenty-five officers calling out from work. Nerves are frayed and tension is running high on both sides of the divide.
What makes Louisville different that Portland is that the Not Fucking Around Coalition is based in Atlanta. As an organization, they don’t appear to have a working history with Louisville’s black community. If that’s the case, we certainly hope there are discussions going on with local community activists and BLM organizers. Grand Master Jay, should afford local activists and Breonna Taylor's family that respect.
As for Commander GMJ’s threat to “burn this mother***er down, New Black Nationalists are going to accept his comments metaphorically. We don’t see the NFAC holding a public ceremony to torch a Louisville municipal building if there is no announcement next week to formally charge LPD officers. In targeting the Kentucky Derby, John Fitzgerald Johnson [AKA…Grand Master Jay] is raising the stakes and at the same time giving Louisville and the State an exit ramp to deescalate a serious crisis.
Whether the State decides to charge any of the officers or not, we expect NFAC to be marching in Louisville. As Commander GMJ said “It'll be a day of celebration because everything will have worked out, or it will be a very interesting day because people will be uncomfortable in a way that they've never been uncomfortable before."
In a previous article New Black Nationalists expressed our support for the formation of the Not Fucking Around Militia. We support the principle of armed self-defense. We also expressed our support for their call for an independent Black state for the descendants of Black slaves: We support the creation of an independent Black republic. We supported NFAC’s demand to have the Confederate images of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis removed from Stone Mountain Public Park in Georgia. And, we support their efforts to bring Breonna Taylor’s killers to justice.
While we are unsure of NFAC’s specific intent in threatening to burn something down, we believe their intent and motivation are righteous. We trust our sisters and brothers in the NFAC keep their safety locks on their arms if not engaging the enemy, to choose their words wisely, and communicate forthrightly with the community in Louisville about their intentions.
On behalf of all the stateless maroons of the New Black Nationalist movement, we convey our warmest regards to the community in Louisville and the NFAC.