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Live Updates: Protest Groups Converge on Louisville Derby Weekend

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Several protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor will take place during the Kentucky Derby, including one by the armed Black militia.


What You Need To Know

  • NFAC’s original plan was to block fans from entering Churchill Downs
  • LMPD has safety measures in place for protests
  • Around 300 members of the armed militia marched in Louisville this past July
  • Demonstration part of several calling for justice for Breonna Taylor

The Atlanta-based Not F***ing Around Coalition, or NFAC, is in Louisville for the annual Run for the Roses. Roughly 300 members the group marched in Louisville on Saturday, July 25, demanding justice for Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman and emergency room technician who was unarmed when she was fatally shot inside her home by police in March. NFAC leader “Grandmaster Jay” Johnson did say the Derby protest will be larger than the one in July.

The group originally planned to block guests from getting into the Derby, Johnson said in a recent YouTube video, but with no fans in attendance, the NFAC’s plans are now unclear.

“The whole idea was that you ain’t going to the Derby because you can’t get through us,” Johnson told the Courier-Journal. “Well, they took the people away.”

Johnson has not said what the militia’s plan is.

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NFAC in Louisville

“This is a chess game,” he said. “They made a move, we made a move, they made a move, now it’s our time to make a move. “Now that they’ve taken the people away, it changes the whole game up a little bit.”

Johnson said he met with city officials to discuss the NFAC’s arrival this weekend.

“We had a meeting with the great city of Louisville to discuss our impending arrival on Sept. 5,” Johnson said. “It was interesting to us. It was a great meeting. Everyone was feeling like we arrived at a middle ground and we wouldn’t have to come in and act like a bunch of criminals, but we could come in and exercise our Constitutional rights.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D), along with members of the Louisville Metro Police Department, provided an update about safety plans ahead of the Derby this weekend.

Fischer said while it remains unclear how many protesters will be present, LMPD has plans in place, and any violence or unlawfulness will not be tolerated. Anyone blocking traffic, creating dangerous conditions on roadways, trespassing, or vandalizing will be arrested, Fischer said.

“Racial justice is a goal that we all support, and we support first amendment rights, we just have to balance the right to protest with our essential duty to preserve public safety,” Fischer said.

LMPD Lt. Col. Andy McClinton said officers will be present at the protests to address any traffic issues or unlawful protests. Officers will also be placed downtown along Broadway and Baxter Avenue to monitor Derby celebrations and protests.

As in years past, the Kentucky State Police and Kentucky National Guard will be in the area to assist with traffic control and any unlawful protests.  

McClinton said officers will try to funnel protesters with opposing viewpoints into separate areas to avoid confrontation. He also said there are plans in place to maintain safety at Cox’s Park, where several groups plan to protest.


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