NFAC Leader's Prosecution Not About Race, But Actions

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The Not F**king Around Coalition is probably one of the more…interesting artifacts that popped up last year during the demonstrations and riots that followed the death of George Floyd. The NFAC showed up and made a big show, but then showed they were actually screwing around with multiple negligent discharges at various events they showed up at.

Now, the leader of the group is facing charges.

Yet it seems some people are convinced his prosecution is really about race or something.

In late July 2020, as Louisville, Kentucky, fumed in the wake of Breonna Taylor’s killing in a botched police raid, a militia group descended on the city.

A phalanx of hundreds of Blackmen and women, all clad in black, marched through downtown. Some wore body armor, others had gas masks. They wore pistols on their belts and carried shotguns and AR-15-style rifles.

It was the latest rally of the Not Fucking Around Coalition, an armed group that says it’s dedicated to protecting Black lives from police brutality. And it got the attention of experts who track extremist movements.

“It was the biggest public display by an armed militia I have ever seen,” said J.J. MacNab, a fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism who has studied the militia movement for 25 years. “Nobody was expecting that.”

A year later, NFAC, as the group is known, was back in Louisville. Its leader, Grandmaster Jay, whose real name is John Fitzgerald Johnson, retained the cocky, steel-eyed confidence that has made him a messiah to tens of thousands of Black Americans. He wore his trademark body armor and sunglasses in the summer heat and spoke grandly of self-defense, Black empowerment and the creation of a Black nation.

Everyone there knew why: Months after a second rally in Louisville, Grandmaster Jay had been charged with “assaulting, resisting or impeding” officers while brandishing a firearm.

That September night, federal prosecutors claim, Grandmaster Jay aimed his rifle at a group of officers conducting surveillance on a rooftop. He faces three to 27 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

See, that’ll do it every time.

I get being bothered by FBI surveillance. However, if you form a militia, you’d better believe the feds are going to keep an eye on you. It’s not that doing so is necessarily illegal. If so, militia leaders would be arrested on a much more regular basis.

No, they keep an eye on militias because they have concerns about why someone formed a militia.

I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying what it is.

When you point a firearm at a surveillance team, though, that’s…that’s not smart.

But, to hear NFAC leader Grandmaster Jay frame it to The Trace and USA Today, there was something more behind the prosecution.

While his organization has marched peacefully and respectfully, he said, mostly white groups have intimidated protesters and barged into government buildings carrying weapons, with little interference from police.

What he fails to mention, though, is that those “mostly white groups” actually complied with the relevant laws where they were at. When they “barged” into government buildings carrying weapons, it was in states that permitted the carrying of weapons in government buildings.

Oh, the press had a field day and I’ve routinely mentioned I think that’s a bad tactic because it shifts the discussion, but it was legal.

That’s why none of them were prosecuted. Why would they be when they didn’t. Break. The law.

This isn’t rocket science here. The NFAC screwed around, had negligent discharges as gathered for their marches, talked about a black nation, then their leader pointed guns at law enforcement. It’s kind of a different situation entirely.

However, The Trace did push back on this idea that white groups get a pass:

In certain cases in which white militia groups have confronted law enforcement directly – such as the armed stand-off at the Malheur NationalWildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 – the feds have pounced on them. Recently, white members of militia groups have been charged after bringing weapons to demonstrations and altercations around the country.

They then go right to talking about racial clampdowns on blacks who arm themselves, going back to the days of slave revolts.

Which is hilarious to me since The Trace is all about gun control.

Regardless, though, I don’t think you can really call this prosecution racially motivated. Grandmaster Jay is accused of something very specific and very illegal. You don’t point your gun at people without a damn good reason. Yes, that includes people conducting surveillance operations against you.

You ain’t got to like it, but just don’t give them anything and they’ll eventually go away. What Grandmaster Jay did was give them a reason to put the handcuffs on him. Now he’s screaming racism.

Unsurprising, really.