Leader of Not Fucking Around Coalition on Capitol Riots: If That Was Us, ‘There’d Still Be Body Bags’

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Hip-hop DJ Grand Master Jay feels like he’s been warning everyone about a siege at the Capitol for years now. And it’s exactly why he founded the Not Fucking Around Coalition, which bills itself as “America’s Black militia.”

“The terrorism that we saw last week validated everything that I’ve ever said about why we need to have an entity such as a Black militia: that it’s defensive, not offensive, because those are the very types of people who wouldn’t hesitate to stop at the Capitol,” Grand Master Jay, born born John Fitzgerald Johnson, told VICE News. 

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The NFAC exists to protect and eventually liberate Black Americans, with the greater goal of establishing a self-sustaining ethno-state. Most recently, they’ve attended several protests or counter-demonstrations about police brutality. Just over a month ago, Johnson was arrested and charged by the federal government for allegedly pointing his gun in the direction of law enforcement during a September rally for Breonna Taylor. And after seeing what happened at the Capitol on January 6, the 57-year-old National Guard and Army veteran is more pissed off than ever. 

“If we had pulled something like that,” he said, “there’d still be body bags being brought in.”

“The actions that I saw displayed in the nation’s Capitol and the response—or lack of response by law enforcement at all levels—was not only disheartening but it was downright infuriating to me and all of my constituents,” he continued. “Anyone who had problems seeing the disparity in how they treat us as opposed to how they treat them… well, we just won that argument, hands down.”

After the seige, many Black activists were quick to point out law enforcement’s failure to control the pro-Trump mob. Despite getting tipped off about plans to attack the Capitol weeks beforehand, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security failed to produce a threat assessment file that seriously looked into the looming threats, NPR reported.

Both agencies, however, drew up reports ahead of Black Lives Matter protests in Portland and other U.S. cities last summer after the police killing of George Floyd.

Here’s what Johnson had to say about last week’s events.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

VICE News: Tell me what was going through your mind when you watched rioters and looters take the Capitol last week.

Johnson: So to see what happened in Washington, and look at the reaction, it’s almost laughable to me. If you guys [the government] really want a case, if you have a new division that was established to investigate groups with an anti-government theology, well, there they were. Not the NFAC, and definitely not me. It makes me begin to wonder exactly what the message is and what exactly the U.S. government is attempting to do when you just had groups of folks invade the Capitol, kill people point-blank, and even brought weapons to a place where it’s not an open-carry state. 

When the NFAC went to Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington [in December 2019], we went unarmed because we obey the law, as we’ve always obeyed the law. So it’s very hypocritical to me that the actions that I saw displayed in the nation’s capital, and the response—or lack of response by law enforcement at all levels—was not only disheartening but it was downright infuriating to me and all of my constituents. 

Anyone who had problems seeing the disparity in how they treat us as opposed to how they treat them… well, we just won that argument, hands down.

VN: Considering your pending case with the Department of Justice, can you talk about how you perceive these outstanding charges a week after the riots in D.C.?

Johnson: It’s in the best interest of the United States government to drop the charges against me and focus on the real criminals here. I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t invaded a federal building with a firearm. I have neither threatened or intimidated any law enforcement officials the way these folks did. Yet, they let this happen. 

If that had been the NFAC, if we had pulled something like that, there’d still be body bags being brought in. They would have broken every treaty they could. They would have released the Marines and the Army on us, and no one who’s on the other end of this conversation can deny that. That is one of the disadvantages of being Black in America.

Have more people shown interest in the NFAC’s mission, especially since last week?

Our numbers have been growing exponentially, and they never stopped. Every incident that happens only propels our numbers. The events in Washington last week were a shot in the arm because people can see the hypocrisy. People who were on the fence about us, saying, ‘Oh I don’t know about those guys” or “We’ll have to wait and see,” now they’re like, “Oh, hell no. Where can I sign up?’

You have to understand the differences between us and any organization that preceded us, such as the Black Panthers. They were mostly made up of young kids. The average age of a member of the NFAC is between 45 and 69. We’re not young. We’re grown folks.

It was well documented coming into 2021 that gun sales in the African American community were up 58%. I was not afraid to show them how to put boots on the ground lawfully, arm themselves legally, and exercise their constitutional rights without there being any problem.

VN: Have the events in D.C. affected the overall mission of the NFAC at all?

Johnson: The terrorism that we saw last week validated everything that I’ve ever said about why we need to have an entity such as a black militia: that it is defensive, not offensive, because those are the very types of people who wouldn’t hesitate to stop at the Capitol. And if they continue to echo the sentiments of the outgoing president, then of course they have a very biased, bigoted, and racial slant toward people of melanin persuasion.

VN: Does the NFAC plan to hold any rallies next week as we approach the inauguration?

Johnson: We are neither left- nor right-wing, so people need to stop trying to put us into those boxes. This election was a process that Americans have every four years. That’s not a reason to go into the street and start shooting. But apparently, there are some folks who do believe that. I’m sorry, but none of them are members of the NFAC.

So whoever came up with the brilliant idea to put armed militias in all 50 states, we know that it isn’t us. We’re not even in that mindset. We don’t disregard laws, and I’ve proven that time and time again with my militia. This is for the government to deal with. This has nothing to do with us and it has nothing to do with the Black community.

We’re not here to police white people who want to attack other white people in the Capitol. They have law enforcement for that. They’re not attacking us. I have zero plans of being anywhere.  

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