By Peter Weber, The Week
More than 300 heavily armed Black protesters marched in formation through Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, demanding progress on the slow investigation of the police killing of Breonna Taylor. The same group, the Not F—ing Around Coalition (NFAC), had recently marched in Stone Mountain, Georgia, wearing black and carrying their semi-automatic rifles, protesting the Atlanta suburb’s namesake monument depicting Confederate generals, and a separate armed Black group marched in Oklahoma City in June to mark President Trump’s Tulsa rally.
They have gotten mixed reactions from Black Lives Matter protesters, who do not carry firearms to demonstrations.
In Louisville, about 50 heavy armed white members of the far-right Three Percenter militia watched the NFAC march, purportedly there to support local police. Three Percenters came in from Indiana, Tennessee, and other states for the rally, according to leader Tara Brandau. Fellow militia member Nick Alsager told the Louisville Courier Journal the NFAC marchers had a constitutional right to speak up, but they’ve “got no business being here. It ain’t your state.” Three people were wounded when someone’s gun accidentally discharged, but otherwise the rally was tense but peaceful.
Black Americans, like white Americans, have been buying firearms in unusually large numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and Black gun ownership picked up more after the police killing of George Floyd, Politico reports, citing a sharp uptick in new memberships in Black gun owner organizations.
The general chaos of the pandemic was one factor in the surge in memberships, but the Floyd killing and subsequent protests were a “line in the sand” for many many new members, Phillip Smith, president of the National African American Gun Owners’ Association, told Politico. “The days are over of African Americans sitting around singing ‘Kumbaya’ and hoping and praying that somebody will come and save them. We’re gonna save ourselves.” Armed Black Panther demonstrations convinced the NRA and California Gov. Ronald Reagan, the future president, to support gun control in the late 1960s.
Anti-racism proponent Ibram X. Kendi argued recently on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast that the glut of white gun ownership is one of the ways that racism has harmed white Americans, pointing to the white male gun suicide rate. White men make up 79 percent of America’s 24,000 gun suicides each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, and people in rural areas are especially at risk. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. gun deaths are suicides.
This article originally appeared in The Week.