Hundreds of protesters from rival groups have descended on Louisville, with armed pro-police activists facing off with anti-racism protesters, as members of all-black NFAC militia staged yet another demonstration of force.
Dressed in black combat fatigues and carrying rifles, around 200 members of the Not F**king Around Coalition (NFAC) gathered in Louisville on Saturday. Having checked their weapons, they marched to a park just outside the Churchill Downs track, where they posed in formation, kneeled, and otherwise demonstrated their resolve to fight for racial justice.
NFAC on the move headed toward Churchill. Group just collectively loaded their weapons. Grandmaster Jay told the group to not chamber a round. @WDRBNewspic.twitter.com/As5SsHg2wU
Simultaneously, a large group of Black Lives Matter, Until Freedom, and other activists also marched to the track, chanting “No justice, no Derby,” blasting the city for holding recreational and leisure “celebrations” while the country is gripped by “systemic racism.”
Groups including the Justice and Freedom Coalition, Until Freedom and NFAC gathered at Louisville parks Saturday and then marched to Churchill Downs, protesting the Kentucky Derby and calling for justice in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor. pic.twitter.com/279XFOhvHB
While rallying for the same cause, the unarmed protesters distanced themselves from NFAC, which previously made it clear that they “believe in violence” and were ready to use force, if necessary.
The Angry Viking rally group has made it to city hall/Jefferson Square Park. Being met by some radical justice protesters. pic.twitter.com/prNCTnRmW4
Earlier in the day, a 250-strong group of armed self-declared pro-police “Patriots” dressed in tactical gear marched downtown. Carrying US flags and chanting “USA!” and “Back the blue,” the group declared that they were sick and tired of the chaos and anarchy across the country, and in Louisville in particular.
Near Jefferson Square Park, the “Patriots” were met by a group of BLM protesters. Amid a tense standoff – in the absence of police, who decided to “let groups exercise rights” – rival activists kept yelling at each other, but refrained from violence.
Large group led by Angry Viking walking towards Jefferson Square. some chants are ‘Whose Streets? America’s Streets’ on Kentucky Derby day in Louisville. pic.twitter.com/ErTLGh96B7
MAGA militia armed with guns causes tension in Louisville, KY pic.twitter.com/R5kl2OChVZ
Police officers moved in to separate the groups only once the majority of both camps had dispersed, local media reported. A total of three people were arrested over the course of the day – for criminal mischief, marijuana possession and possession of a gun by a convicted felon – but none of them were related to the Churchill Downs rallies or Jefferson Square Park standoff.
Angry Viking Patriots decides to fall back from heated tension with racial justice groups in Louisville #AngryViking#LouisvilleProtests#NFACpic.twitter.com/yzfQduOHjA
As for the annual historic race, which due to coronavirus was postponed and ultimately held without spectators, the Kentucky Derby also went smoothly (fenced-off and with a heavy police presence). Authentic, ridden by John Velazquez, claimed victory – but it wouldn’t be 2020 if the champion didn’t get spooked and knocked down several people in the Winner’s Circle.
A very 2020 moment to cap off the strangest of Derby days. Glad everyone is okay. pic.twitter.com/k0oCT34xVs
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