Ahead of Derby weekend protests, NFAC leader walks back claim to ‘burn this’ city down

Ahead of Derby weekend protests, NFAC leader walks back claim to ‘burn this’ city down
In an interview with WAVE 3 News, Grand Master Jay said his group, the Not F***ing Around Coalition, did not intend to burn the city down. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, and certainly the most exciting two minutes in sports, but this year’s Kentucky Derby will stand out in history for different reasons.

>> WATCH: Full interview in video player above

The Derby has run on through the Great Depression and two World Wars. This year, the historic race will continue, but with no spectators except the ones outside the gate protesting the death of Breonna Taylor, and calling for Churchill Downs to shut the Derby down.

One of those leading voices will be John Jay Johnson, who also goes by the name Grand Master Jay. He leads the Not F***ing Around Coalition, which describes itself as a focused, self-financed, armed militia of trained Black military veterans. Johnson, a 2016 independent presidential candidate, led the group’s first visit to Louisville in July, protesting Taylor’s death and calling for police reform and racial equality.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville woman, was shot dead by LMPD narcotics officers during a raid on her home back in March.

When he addressed the group in downtown Louisville in July, at one point, Johnson said about the investigation into Taylor’s death, “If we ... don’t get the truth ... the whole truth ... and the mother****ing truth, we are going to burn this mother****er down.”

This week, in an interview with WAVE 3 News, Johnson was asked what he meant by that.

“That’s a million dollar question,” he said. “Nobody with good sense would think you would come in like the old days with torches and burn the town down. That doesn’t serve the purpose.

“‘Burn it down’ means to take down the systems that are in place that have held us up. In other words, we need those answers and we need those answers now.

NFAC members said they are exercising their 1st and 2nd Amendment rights peacefully. Johnson added that those rights are for all Americans.

“No one has issued a threat to burn down the town,” he said. “We don’t break the law.”

Johnson also said his group has notified local law enforcement of NFAC’s plans to protest near Churchill Downs this weekend.

“We’re in discussions with the appropriate folks so we can come down and exercise our constitutional rights and they won’t be denied,” he said.

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