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Feds: Militia leader pointed rifle at officers in Kentucky

December 3, 2020 GMT
Members of the NFAC, a Black militia, march to Churchill Downs racetrack before the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Members of the NFAC, a Black militia, march to Churchill Downs racetrack before the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The leader of a pro-gun group that stages armed protests against police violence has been charged with pointing a rifle at federal officers while in Kentucky for a demonstration.

John F. Johnson, who calls himself “Grandmaster Jay,” is facing a federal charge of assaulting task force officers. A complaint filed in federal court in Louisville said Johnson pointed a rifle, which had a flashlight mounted to it, at officers who were on a roof in downtown Louisville on Sept. 4.

Johnson’s group, known as the NFAC, has an all-Black membership and often demonstrates against white supremacy and police violence. The incident occurred the day before the Kentucky Derby, when several groups and hundreds of protesters peacefully marched to call for justice in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police. The group also held a march on July 4 at Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park, calling for the park’s massive Confederate carving to be removed.

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U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman said the FBI is committed to “investigating violent behavior and those who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law.”

Johnson, 57, was arrested Thursday at his home in West Chester, Ohio.

Johnson pointed an AR-style rifle with the flashlight on, which “blinded” several officers on the roof, including Secret Service and FBI officers, according to a release from Coleman’s office. Officers were concerned Johnson could accidentally fire a round, according to the federal complaint.

Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the charge.