Two different militia groups are making plans for public marches and rallies in Louisville, Kentucky this weekend, but city officials say both groups say they’re coming to the city for peaceful purposes. The Not F***ing Around Coalition announced its intent to bring thousands of black gun owners to the downtown area on Saturday with the intent of raising awareness and demanding accountability in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police earlier this year as they served a search warrant on her apartment. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker says that police never announced themselves, and he believed that the apartment was being broken into when he fired one shot as the door was broken down. Police responded with fire of their own, killing Taylor. Walker was originally charged in her death, but those charges were dropped several weeks ago, and both the FBI and the state of Kentucky are now investigating the case.
The NFAC won’t be the only armed group in town. Several Three Percenter groups have also made plans on social media to show up in the city to provide “security.”
Maj. Aubrey Gregory told reporters Thursday that the groups are expected to be armed, but everyone police have spoken with has expressed the desire for peaceful protests.
“We have been in contact with both groups coming to Louisville, and we expect nothing but a peaceful protest this weekend,” he said.
To help ensure that, police will limit vehicle access around the park, including prohibiting parking on the streets surrounding Jefferson Square Park.
And police will use bike rack barriers to create a buffer zone and separate the protesters.
Gregory said police will create a “no-go zone” on Fifth street “to try and keep those people with “alternative viewpoints” separated. The department will try not to intervene as long as protesters do not break the law, police have said.
I expect things will be peaceful as well, and honestly, I’m pretty sure the two groups could find some common ground if they do end up in a space where conversation, not confrontation, can take place. We saw something similar happen in Provo, Utah a couple of weeks ago, when Black Lives Matters protesters invited armed counter-protesters to speak with them instead of the two groups shouting at each other from across a downtown street. In Springfield, Oregon on Wednesday night, a Black Lives Matter protest ended up with both sides talking for hours instead of fighting it out in the streets.
For over two hours, 300 people listened to different viewpoints on systemic racism and defunding the police. A Springfield resident who goes by Rob and is a counter-protester said he is happy how the forum turned out.
“Black Unity said a lot of great stuff and our spokesman Marcus said a lot of great stuff,” Rob said. “This was a peaceful protest, it didn’t end up with looting or rioting. No one got hurt.”
In the end, both sides agreed that the system is broken and something has to be done to fix it. But to fix it, [Black Unity Outreach Coordinator Tyshawn] Ford said there needs to be more open forums with constructive dialogue.
Maybe we’ll get to see more of the same on Saturday in Louisville. The NFAC and the Three Percenters are both opposed to government tyranny and support the right to keep and bear arms, which is at least a starting point for discourse instead of discord. I’m absolutely certain that the two groups won’t agree on 100% of the issues, but they might surprise even themselves with what they have in common. It’s worth a try, because if we don’t figure out a way to actually talk to one another, things are going to get much uglier than what we’ve seen so far. Check out this tweet from an NBC reporter who was covering the protests in Portland on Wednesday night.
“This is no a longer protest. We are in the middle of a Civil War.” – a protester here in #Portland leading “Black Lives Matter” & “F*** Feds” chants
— Maura Barrett (@MauraBarrettNBC) July 23, 2020
We are not in a civil war at the moment. If we were, that guy wouldn’t be chanting and the cops wouldn’t simply be using tear gas. He may want a civil war, (he might even get one), but if his Portland neighborhood ended up looking like a Syrian war zone where he had to avoid sniper fire and drone strikes just so he could get his Voodoo Donuts fix, he might change his tune. Thankfully we’re not there yet, and I still hold out hope, no matter how unrealistic, that the Che Guevara wannabes who believe that a violent overthrow of capitalism and our system of government is necessary to achieve peace, justice, and equality for all will read a history book or two (here is a good place to start) and realize that every time some group tries to create heaven on earth, it ends up instead a living hell.
America isn’t a perfect place, and never will be, but as the Three Percenters and the NAFC Coalition gather in Louisville, I hope they both remember that the United States is literally the only country on earth where they can assemble by the hundreds or thousands to exercise their right of free speech, their right to peaceably assemble, and their right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of a free state.