There was a tense standoff in Louisville as armed members of the Black Lives Matter group NFAC (“Not F**king Around Coalition”) and the white “Three Percenters” confronted each other in a park near downtown. According to the New York Post, at about 1:00 p.m. shots rang out in the park and three people were taken to the hospital. As it turns out, the shooting was apparently accidental.
At least three people were hurt when the gunfire erupted around 1 p.m. near Baxter Square Park.
One NFAC member told the crowd, “we had a little accident, it happens,” according to a report.
At least two people were taken out on stretchers, one local reporter noted on social media.
Accident or not, the protest and counterprotest ended peacefully.
Wearing all black and carrying assault rifles, members marched in military-style formation from Baxter Park in the Russell neighborhood to Metro Hall where they stopped around 2:45 p.m. at police barricades.
Right across was a smaller group of 50 far-right “Three Percenter” militia members, who were also heavily armed.
The opposing militia said it showed up in response to NFAC and to aid police. As the two sides neared, one Three Percenter yelled “Don’t fire unless you’re fired upon!” as police in riot gear stood nearby and helicopters buzzed.
Police kept the sides apart and tensions eventually dissipated. Both militias had said they wanted to avoid violence.
The NFAC was there to protest the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot after police executed a “no-knock” warrant and were fired upon by one of the men in the apartment. The Three Percenters were there to support the police.
The founder of the Not F**king Around Coalition, John Johnston, is upset that the investigation by police and prosecutors into Taylor’s death is taking so long.
John “Grandmaster Jay” Johnson, founder of the NFAC, delivered a fiery speech calling for local and state officials to speed up and be more transparent about the investigation into Taylor’s shooting.
Otherwise, he warned that leaders can expect more outrage from local residents and outside activists.
“If you don’t tell us nothing we going to think you ain’t doing nothing,” Johnson said.
Authorities may have already botched the investigation and it’s unclear whether any satisfactory resolution to the case can be achieved.
Cameron’s office said Saturday he “did not comment on any specifics related to the timeline of the investigation” and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office denied there were concerns about the police work.
“We understand the desire for truth & ask that to be the focus of demonstrations, not violence. We continue to work diligently in pursuit of the truth by conducting an independent investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor,” Cameron tweeted on Saturday.
As for the Three Percenters, one of the leaders denied they were there to confront the NFAC, but didn’t think the black militia should be in Louisville.
Nick Alsager, who held an assault rifle with others from the Three Percenters, said NAFC had a constitutional right to make their voices heard, but he didn’t approve of them coming to Louisville. He said the city had already been buffeted by protests and hoped they would end as the investigation is finished.
“You got no business being here. It ain’t your state,” he said of the group.
This wasn’t a preview of a race war or a large-scale uprising by Black Lives Matter, but the longer these protests go on, the more armed groups representing both sides will find space to confront each other and the possibility of tragedy becomes more prevalent.