While some march and others kneel, a growing number of Blacks are embracing the Second Amendment Right to bear arms as part of public demonstrations, similar to many White organizations, and engaging in defensive use of weapons training.
The all-Black “NFAC,” an acronym for the Not F—king Around Coalition has attracted national attention for their substantial turnouts in Louisville, Ky., to support justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot to death during a police raid and a show of force in Stone Mountain, Ga., once a hotbed for Klan activity.
They dress in all Black uniforms and believe in open carrying of legal weapons in accord with U.S. law.
In an exclusive telephone interview with The Final Call, John Fitzgerald Johnson, also known as the Original Grand Master Jay, the coalition’s founder and leader talked about the group, its aims and purpose.
“The reasons are right in front of our faces,” said Grand Master Jay, when asked about what called for organizing NFAC. “It’s now time.”
He pointed to a combination of forces arrayed against the Black community that aid and abet a system designed for Black degeneration and victimization as the reason to organize.
“We’ve reached a tipping point where we require a stronger answer other than rhetoric … speeches … half-hearted agreements … that they never follow through on,” said Grandmaster Jay.
The dynamics that called NFAC into existence are decades old, however, the timing for such a movement is right as America tries to return to the old days where Blacks were the targets of acute discrimination, lynching and White terrorism.
In May, it was NFAC that converged on the rural Brunswick, Ga. murder site of Ahmaud Arbery and the homes of his accused killers. Many point to the killing of Mr. Arbery in February, who was stalked, stopped and shot to death after being accosted by a group of White men, police killings and even the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 at the hands of a “neighborhood watch” volunteer as part of a steady stream of Black lives taken unjustly with too little or no accountability. And they note, the Black victims were not armed.
Old White supremacist practices and mentalities planted the seeds of the civil rights movement and have seeded the current soil that sparked NFAC’s emergence, said its leader.
He declined to share details about the origins, size and specific operations of NFAC but said the group is composed of its own members and members of other Black groups who support the Black right to self-defense and joint formations.
The group’s goal is more than just self-defense but includes a demand for a Black homeland for past wrongs and injustices and to promote a Black future.
As Grandmaster Jay said, “With the end goal to be not just the response to what is happening to us now, but to get fixed and go on and collect once and for all everything that’s owed to us as a race.”
Weapons in hand, NFAC assembled July 25 in Louisville in support of justice demands for Breonna Taylor, the Black 26-year-old EMT, shot and killed in a botched no-knock police raid on her apartment in March.
Controversy arose when a member collapsed from the heat and their shotgun discharged in what was deemed an accident. There were no injuries and three members of NFAC were sent to the University of Louisville Hospital for observation, according to Grandmaster Jay. Earlier reports stating three people were shot was “false reporting,” he said.
Grand Master Jay characterized NFAC’s involvement in Louisville as “political” and expressed some optimism after meeting with Louisville Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Louisville Metro Council President David James—both are Black. He would not divulge details or any demands from the meeting, except for a planned return in four weeks’ time to check what actions were taken. “We don’t make threats,” he said, adding, if there is inaction, he will cross that bridge then. According to published reports, the Louisville attorney general’s spokesperson Elizabeth Kuhn said the July 20 phone call was “productive.”
Ms. Kuhn wrote in an email to the Courier Journal, “Attorney General Cameron discussed his continued commitment to moving forward with our office’s independent and thorough investigation into the death of Ms. Taylor.”
Activists and protestors have been calling for Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Officers Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove to be charged with murder in protests that have been ongoing for nearly two months. Mr. Hankison has been terminated but not charged in the Taylor killing.
NFAC garnered national attention July 4 after organizing 1,500 armed members in ranks in Stone Mountain, Ga., the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. NFAC’s leader told The Final Call the move was specifically done as a warning to White supremacists who threaten assaults and worse on Black people.
For White supremacists Stone Mountain Park is a significant and symbolic site.
It includes a Confederate “Mount Rushmore” with a nine-story sculptures of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Southern generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
With a recent wave of confederate statutes and symbols being removed in the wake of antiracist protests, the national park has been a target. Before the shutdowns of public sites from Covid-19 pestilence, the park was a popular location for White nationalist rallies.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a 2019 analysis documented a 16-year high in hate crimes in 2018. However, the number overall of hate crimes has remained steady following a three-year increase after the election of President Donald Trump.
Political analysts have ascribed a White backlash to the presidency of Barack Obama—the first Black president from 2008 to 2016—as helping to fuel the current climate of racial hatred. They say President Trump’s racially charged rhetoric has given further license to White supremacists’ threats and actions that primarily target Black people.
According to 2018 FBI statistics, 53.6 percent of the offenders who committed 6,266 hate crimes against other people were White and predominately male. The FBI analysis said among single-bias hate crime incidents in 2018 motivated by race and ethnicity, 47.1 percent were anti-Black bias.
Like himself, the NFAC militia consists of mostly ex-military people who Grand Master Jay described as “responsible guys,” and “the guys with the good jobs.” Its mandatory that every member is vetted with legal papers to carry arms, he said.
The militia leader is a former independent 2016 presidential candidate in his 50s, a social activist and was in the music business for 30 years.
Other historic Black groups have embraced the right to bear arms and protect their lives. The Deacons for Defense and Justice was founded in 1964 in Jonesboro, La., to protect civil rights activists from the Ku Klux Klan.
The organization was made up of Black veterans from World War II, who believed in armed self-defense. About 20 chapters were created throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Deacons for Defense provided protection for people participating in protest marches in Mississippi in 1966, including the March Against Fear.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland on October 15, 1966 with a desire to combat police brutality and invoked their constitutional rights to carry arms for self and community protection. They also believed in social justice and revolution against oppression and U.S. hegemony. Their movement spread nationally and internationally.
The Constitution and double standards
“There is the Constitution and the amendments of the Constitution and there is citizenship in theory and citizenship in fact,” commented Dr. Abdul Haleem Muhammad, the Southwest regional representative for the Nation of Islam based in Houston.
“When it comes to Black people, we are only citizens in theory. We’re not citizens in fact,” said Dr. Haleem Muhammad.
Militias have been an interesting topic in national discourse, especially with the rise of White militias and gun rights movements at different times in the United States. However, racism in respecting or acknowledging 2nd Amendment rights for Blacks has always been problematic.
Dr. Haleem Muhammad doesn’t expect any change in recognition of any Black rights. “There is nothing in our 465-year sojourn in America that points to anything different,” he said.
Where White militias are not readily characterized as “domestic terrorists,” the term “Black identity extremists” has been thrown at Black militias.
“In fact, all of the antigun laws were put into place initially after the Civil War when Black people started to defend themselves from White terrorism, from the Ku Klux Klan and other White terroristic groups,” explained Krystal Muhammad, the national chairperson of the New Black Panther Party, which also believes in the right of self-defense.
Ms. Muhammad said the need for Black people to defend themselves against White terror have always existed.
There are gun shows every weekend in America, she noted.
“The majority of those people participating in many of those gun shows have been White Americans, stockpiling weapons, stockpiling ammo,” Krystal Muhammad said. “They’ve been stockpiling for what? Their perceived threat of us non-Whites.”
The longtime activist told The Final Call that White supremacist militias openly threaten violence against Black people on websites and are on record stocking up arms.
“There is no level of government that will defend our people,” said Ms. Muhammad. “Not even on the international level. So, self-defense, the right to survival, self-preservation is the natural order,” she argued.
The right to assemble, the right to express grievances with government are constitutional rights, Ms. Muhammad continued. “But when our people do that, they are pepper sprayed and tear gassed, and it is a matter of time before they will be shooting live bullets and we would have to defend ourselves. We know the fall of America is here, it’s happening, it’s going on,” added Krystal Muhammad.
“I see the need for more unity … more training, because we are dealing with a very hostile government,” said Krystal Muhammad.
The government’s hostility and infiltration of Black dissident organizations is not lost on NFAC. Grand Master Jay explained it is vigilant about people joining who may not have the group’s best interest at heart.
“We learned our lessons from COINTELPRO … Operation Black Messiah,” said Grand Master Jay referring to the FBI program under former director J. Edgar Hoover that infiltrated, spied on disrupted and destroyed Black organizations.
Everything that has ever happened in society in every civilization has resulted in the use of arms, said Grand Master Jay. But, he said, NFAC is not engaged in armed struggle.
“My problem is nobody questions when White people organize themselves and carry arms … when White people decide that they want to organize militias … no one says a thing,” he said. “But the moment that the Black man decides to do it everyone wants to examine it.” The NFAC does not owe anyone an explanation and is clear about what it wants, he said.
NFAC is for the protection of our own race, self-policing of our own race and our inherent right to defend ourselves, he said.
“As followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad under the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, we adhere to God’s instruction, that we do not carry as much as a pin knife,” said Dr. Haleem Muhammad.
Although the Nation of Islam may not carry weapons, “as our father before us, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, we respect and love all of his people,” he said.
“We respect our people, but we do not believe that the arms that they have gathered will ever equal that which the enemy has,” he added. “We will defend ourselves if attacked, but we believe that God Himself is our greatest defender,” continued Dr. Haleem Muhammad.
The Nation of Islam does engage in military and self defense training and believes in the duty and right to protect one’s life—but does not carry carnal weapons.
Political prisoners and a demand for a Black homeland
Grand Master Jay told The Final Call the aim of NFAC is separation in a land exclusively for Blacks here or in Africa. NFAC is prepared to petition the International Court of Justice at the United Nations to declare Blacks in America as political prisoners, he said.
“I want them to declare every Black person who is a descendent of the Portuguese slave trade a political prisoner of the United States,” said Grand Master Jay. The aim is to have the world body sanction the U.S. to “give us our own land here, so we can go in, set up our own government,” he explained.
A proverbial Plan B is a land base on the African continent, the militia leader continued. He does not expect either option to happen without strife and envisions the NFAC as becoming the foundation of a Black military force to answer any resistance to the goal of self-determination.
He said, the global aspiration has been absent from the mainstream media narratives about the group.
The NFAC has global alliances and injustices abroad have resulted in rebellions, civil war and regime change starting with a small group of individuals willing to arm themselves, said Grand Master Jay.
The militia leader said as America arms opposition forces in other countries there are nations that has pledged the same to his group, should they decide to engage in open conflict with the U.S. government for the liberation of Black people.
“Now the world is taken notice that there is an entity in the United States that is willing to take up arms, and a lot of these countries have already pledged,” he said. “That’s why they are so concerned.”