Police have confirmed reports of shots fired in Louisville as opposing militia groups descended on the city Saturday.
“BREAKING: We just watched two people be taken onto stretchers at Baxter square on 12th and Jefferson. Metro safe has confirmed reports of shootings & that there are multiple victims. We heard the noises when people scattered to get behind cars, & to take a knee,” WHAS-TV’s Jessie Cohen tweeted.
BREAKING: We just watched two people be taken onto stretchers at Baxter square on 12th and Jefferson. Metro safe has confirmed reports of shootings & that there are multiple victims. We heard the noises when people scattered to get behind cars, & to take a knee @WHAS11 #nightteam pic.twitter.com/h5AsPWlLbi
— Jessie Cohen (@jessiecohennews) July 25, 2020
The gunfire came as opposing groups of armed protesters marched in Louisville.
An armed black militia group known as the NFAC, or the “Not F—ing Around Coalition,” planned to openly carry firearms and march to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police officers serving a no-knock warrant in March.
WAVE-TV reported that in response to the NFAC traveling to Louisville, other militia groups also announced plans to descend on the city.
We expect an increase in people in the area of Jefferson Square Park this weekend as several groups have announced their intention to protest there on Saturday. With that in mind, LMPD will be taking additional steps to make sure the area is as safe as possible. #LMPD pic.twitter.com/0piSohjsRS
— LMPD (@LMPD) July 24, 2020
“Everything from the Kentucky militia, Mississippi militia, a group that calls themselves the Patriots for Reclamation, a lot of Three Percent groups, One Percent groups, from as far away as Kansas,” Louisville Metropolitan Police Department Major Aubrey Gregory told WAVE.
“We have been in contact with both groups coming to Louisville, and we expect nothing but a peaceful protest this weekend,” Gregory added.
The police major said his city’s officers were planning to separate the opposing groups of militias by enforcing a “no-go” zone made using bike rack barriers.
“We’re going to try and keep those people who have alternate viewpoints but are both exercising the First Amendment rights to express those viewpoints, we’re going to try to keep them separated on both sides of 5th Street,” Gregory said.
John Fitzgerald Johnson, who goes by the moniker The Real Grandmaster Jay, leads the NFAC.
The Real Grandmaster Jay urged his militia’s members to arrive in the city armed with shotguns or rifles.
“This ain’t no spectator sport, you can come out if you want to. If you want to watch history, that’s cool. But understand the seriousness of the situation,” he said in a video posted to social media, WAVE reported.
“The NFAC has been misrepresented by many on social media and so forth, and we’re here to end those theories,” he added to WAVE. “We’re not here to cause chaos. There have been rumors that we’re coming in to hunt people down. These are all misperceptions. Again we are simply exercising our constitutional rights to assemble and bear arms.”
The Real Grandmaster Jay said prior to Saturday’s march that his group had been in contact with law enforcement.
Photos of armed protesters were posted online Saturday morning as the militia groups began to assemble in the city:
— Chris Kenning (@chris_kenning) July 25, 2020
And the black militia, NFAC. pic.twitter.com/gjFjGnkxCg
— JJ MacNab (@jjmacnab) July 25, 2020
Here at Baxter Park where the Not F**king Around Coalition has assembled before marching to Jefferson Square Park.
— Philmonger (@phillipmbailey) July 25, 2020
I’m with the NFAC now. About 500 members are here, mostly armed with long guns and wearing black. Word is they’re marching into downtown in about ten minutes. I’ll be livestreaming again soon. pic.twitter.com/ic6RxyZPrY
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) July 25, 2020
One city councilman warned citizens to stay away from the downtown area Saturday.
“The potential for violence will be heightened as we will more than likely have a number of highly armed groups representing very different viewpoints as well as other groups all situated within a block of each other,” Councilman Kevin Kramer told WDRB on Friday.
“While efforts are being made to ensure a safe environment to all persons present, I would caution you that the potential for violence will exist,” he added.
Police had said they did not intend to intervene unless they saw unlawful activity.
“LMPD remains committed to peaceful expression of views under the First Amendment. As we have done for several weeks, there will be no need for police intervention as long as there is no threat to personal or public safety,” the department said in a statement to WAVE.
“We will not allow the barricading of streets by non-law enforcement, impeding traffic, or attempting to threaten or force people not involved in the protests from their intended destination.”
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