On May 25, 2019, nine white supremacists stood in Dayton, Ohio, in a show of muscle summoned by the Ku Klux Klan. Among the many rejection responses they encountered was, for the first time, something called the Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC, translatable as No Vamos De Puta Broma Coalition), a newly minted militia that claims to defend the black community from The US from the most violent consequences of American racism, starting with arbitrary arrests and murders, especially those of the police. They swear not to be the new Black Panthers or the armed wing of Black Lives Matter, but their more than a thousand members break into supremacist congregations with assault rifles. They have fired shots, yes, but counted. Those who have been arrested or sentenced have been, mainly, for pointing their weapons at law enforcement officers.
The founder of the militia, John Fitzgerald Johnson (Florida, 52 years old), nicknamed Grand Master Jay, resists any flat definition. “First of all, I’m a black man fed up with bullshit,” this retired soldier with a resume that can only be found in the United States declares by video call: he has been a hip hop producer and DJ (without much travel), and a candidate for president in 2016 (with less travel). Now he acts as a spiritual guide in this paramilitary group. This morning he is wearing a bulletproof vest and sunglasses. On the wall behind him hang photos of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and himself.
In 2020, interest in the NFAC was fueled by the police assassinations of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, this time by two civilians, Gregory McMichael and his son Travis. . “That worried us a lot, because it is not only the police who kill, but also normal people,” protests Johnson. Self-defense and vigilance in their neighborhoods are, he says, the main reason for the new group, another trait that brings them closer to the Black Panthers. “The police always say they attack in self-defense, but no one is shooting at them. Defending ourselves is what we do. We do not threaten and we have never fired, ”he continues.
“We want to participate in the planning of our communities,” he continues. “The police have reactive action models and they don’t work. We want to make proactive models: in the neighborhood we know the people, we know what is happening and we can see if something happens before it happens ”.
A million soldiers
This militia is based on classic civil rights books such as Negroes With Gunsby activist Robert F. Williams. He aspires to reach a million “soldiers”, but they do not accept just anyone. To enter, you must be black, have your own weapon and be 18 years old, although they propose to delay the minimum age until 21. “At first there were kids who entered and then left. Many young people want to join us, but they must take the step to maturity. They can’t go around with the ‘Hey, I have a semiautomatic!’ Thing, Johnson continues.
The criminal record of each member is studied. “We prefer ex-military men. This is not a gun club, this is not a church. It is a militia. You need to take orders and have a certain degree of professionalism. If you’ve served in the military, you understand what training and authority are, ”says Johnson. “We do not accept people who have been a police officer or a prison officer, because there are many friends here who have had bad experiences with the police. I don’t want something to happen and someone shoots you. It is for your safety ”.
That in the short term. In the long term it is already something else more diffuse. Johnson bets on the idea of founding a black ethnostate. Appointment The Destruction of Black Civilization, by the historian Chancellor Williams, to justify the creation, by descendants of slaves, of “a place to return to and where to determine our destiny” that would be called the United Black Kemetic Nation (UBKN). “It comes from Kemet, which means land of blacks, it was the name of Egypt,” he explains. For now, it is still not clear how or where it would happen.
Grand Master Jay talks like a preacher and seems convinced that he is. In his early fifties, this military veteran has a patchwork life history that is hard to summarize. He entered the army in 1989 and left it in 1997, although the following year he returned and was later expelled: the discharge was for a reason “other than honorable.” His trajectory as a musician, of which there is little record, was also erratic, and Grandmaster Flash and DJ Jazzy Jeff accused him of having plagiarized them, according to The Atlantic. In 2016 he became a short-fuse politician, running an independent candidacy for the White House under the slogan “Only we can fix it.” Shortly after, he reappeared on networks with a series of videos – now a YouTube channel – which, he says, are the germ of the current NFAC.
While the echo of last January’s assault on the Capitol still resounds, a moment of ecstasy for far-right militias such as the Oath Keepers or the supremacist Boogaloo Boys, the NFAC is not without controversy. Johnson supported the peaceful Black Lives Matter movement in its beginnings, but currently believes that “it has not served any purpose and its activities no longer reflect the struggle of black people, they have been overshadowed by the LGTBI movement”, which has earned him accusations of promoting homophobic speech. Years ago, they also met comments on their social networks, now suspended, in which doubts about the Nazi holocaust were sown.
In late 2020, the FBI searched Johnson’s West Chester home and detained him on charges of pointing and blinding police officers at a Louisville demonstration with an AR-15 flashlight. “It’s a lie, anyone who has seen me knows that I am not targeting anyone,” protests the leader of the organization, who is free on bail and for whom they are asking for 20 years in prison. “Now I don’t carry weapons [se las incautaron] But I am dedicated to working with the community, I have no problem ”, he adds. Expect to be judged.
Grand Master Jay maintains without batting an eye that the Trump administration launched a manhunt against him. However, despite what could come off his visceral tone, he is optimistic about the new government of the country: “With Biden the atmosphere is more liberal and diverse. You have an Indian, of Indian descent, who sits in the Justice Department, and they are getting rid of the people who helped Trump in his reign of terror. The racism is still there, but the blatant and escalating acts of racism that occurred during the Trump administration are over. The last thing the Biden administration wants is the continuation of that, because then groups like us emerge ”, he considers. Still, what is already the largest black militia in the United States runs the risk of losing its commander.
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