The Persecution of John Johnson, Leader of America’s Largest Black Militia

by | Jun 27, 2022

The Persecution of John Johnson, Leader of America’s Largest Black Militia

by | Jun 27, 2022

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John Johnson, leader of America’s largest black militia, currently sits in a Kentucky prison—a victim of grievous injustice perpetrated by the FBI.

Readers might recall Johnson, aka Grandmaster Jay, as the leader of the “Not Fucking Around Coalition” (NFAC), an all-black militia that captured headlines in the summer of 2020. NFAC members showed up at protests sporting military gear and rifles that summer, claiming credit for pressuring the government for justice in cases such as the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

Apparently, the FBI was frightened by an armed black nationalist militia that doesn’t align with the state-sanctioned, corporate-sponsored progressive Black Lives Matter movement.

The FBI waited for Johnson and his group to make any minor slip-up—which ended up happening on September 4, 2020.

It was a sequence of events that lasted fewer than eight seconds: Johnson had recently arrived in Louisville, Kentucky with the NFAC to conduct an armed demonstration amidst the protests of Breonna Taylor’s murder. He stepped out of his vehicle when someone informed him of people standing on a nearby rooftop.

Johnson turned on the tactical flashlight attached to his AR-15 rifle, pointed it at the rooftop to illuminate the area and see who was up there, and then he walked on to the nearby rally.

The footage still isn’t public, but it turned out that there were police officers on the rooftop—including one who was detailed to an FBI task force.

The officers would later claim they were so fearful that they didn’t engage Johnson or arrest him on the spot for pointing his weapon at them. Nor did they arrest him when he made a speech shortly after, when he returned to his hotel that night, or when he left town after the weekend’s protest activities.

Instead, the FBI launched an investigation, culminating three months later—December 3, 2020—when law enforcement knocked down the door of Johnson’s Cincinnati townhouse with an armored vehicle to execute a search warrant.

Of course, Johnson made a mistake by pointing his rifle at other human beings—as he admitted during his trial last month. Pointing a gun at someone is a clear violation of firearms safety 101.

However, the FBI claimed that he was threatening the lives of police officers—an offense that could land him in a cage for the next 20 years.

I was at Johnson’s trial in May, and thought the FBI and DOJ would be laughed out of the courtroom.

The jokes started when prosecutors claimed that Johnson surely knew there were police officers on the rooftop—despite the fact that it was nighttime, and that the Ohio resident had only been to Louisville twice before.

But the real kicker was when prosecutors tried to convince the jury that Johnson flipped off the safety switch on his rifle with his thumb, even though the surveillance footage did not show his thumb.

What was the DOJ’s evidence to support the claim that Johnson turned off his rifle’s safety? The surveillance footage showed his middle and trigger fingers—which were never on the trigger—slightly twitching. According to the DOJ, Johnson’s twitchy fingers were a clear indication that his thumb flipped off the safety.

I asked firearms expert and AmmoLand journalist John Crump about the DOJ’s claims.

“I don’t see how you can determine that a safety was flipped off by just watching those two fingers,” said Crump, who is also the head of the Virginia chapter of Gun Owners of America.

“Even though I don’t agree where Mr. Johnson stands on a lot of issues, I do believe that he has every right to be armed and to protest.”

Unfortunately, the Louisville jury of Johnson’s “peers”—which only consisted of one black person—found the government’s arguments compelling.

In a verdict that took less than three hours to render, the jury unanimously found Johnson guilty of threatening police officers—and even agreed to the secondary offense of “brandishing” his weapons at them.

What really happened was a successful assault by the FBI on the Second Amendment and First Amendment—the latter because the DOJ played videos of Johnson calling for the scalps of murderous police officers, somehow correlating that with him using his tactical flashlight.

Johnson intends to appeal and file for a mistrial, but awaits sentencing in August.

Meanwhile, his militia is still largely inactive.

For how long? What incentive do NFAC members have to remain peaceful when they saw what the FBI did to their leader? The militia did everything it could to work within the system—including obtaining permits and frequently working with city and law enforcement officials—and its leader’s imprisonment is the result.
Utah attorney Jesse Trentadue, who has been suing the FBI for the last 20-plus years for records related to the Oklahoma City bombing, helped expose an undercover bureau operation called Patriot Conspiracy (PATCON)—an FBI operation to incite right-wing militias to violence.

Johnson’s arrest smacks of a similar PATCON-like assault on black militias by the FBI.

If and when a black-nationalist militia commits an act of violence, keep in mind what the FBI did to radicalize the movement.

About Ken Silva

Ken Silva has been a reporter for more than 10 years, working in places such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, and the United States. His favorite writers include Annie Jacobsen and Wendy Painting, and he thinks Robert Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" is highly underrated among libertarians today.

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