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Grandmaster Jay pleads guilty, gets one year added to sentence

  John F. Johnson, AKA Grandmaster Jay, pictured right is the founder of the NFAC Coalition
Ryan Van Velzer
John F. Johnson, AKA Grandmaster Jay, pictured right is the founder of the NFAC Coalition

The founder of a Black militia that participated in some of the 2020 racial justice protests over the police killing of Breonna Taylor has pleaded guilty to five federal counts of wanton endangerment.

John F. Johnson, AKA Grandmaster Jay, pleaded guilty Thursday for pointing an assault rifle at five police officers in September 2020.

He will serve a one-year sentence that will run concurrently with a seven-year federal sentence for assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and a separate count of brandishing a firearm in relation to a violent crime.

Johnson is the founder of the “Not F****ing Around Coalition, a Black militia that participated in racial justice protests in Louisville in 2020 calling for justice for Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her home by Louisville police earlier that year. Johnson has said the purpose of his organization is to educate Black Americans on their constitutional rights.

Prosecutors said Johnson pointed a flashlight mounted on an assault rifle at federal agents and Louisville Metro Police officers staged on rooftops around Jefferson Square Park on September 4, 2020. Though none of the officers drew their weapons in response, prosecutors said officers feared Johnson might accidentally or intentionally fire his weapon.

Following Johnson’s federal sentencing, racial justice advocates said he was treated unfairly, and that prosecutors wanted to make an example out of him because he was the leader of a Black militia.

During Johnson’s first large-scale protest in the city in July 2020, he stood on the steps of Metro Hall surrounded by an armed militia and threatened to burn down the city. During the event, three militia members were struck by gunfire after an accidental discharge ahead of the demonstration.

Ryan Van Velzer has told stories of people surviving floods in Thailand, record-breaking heat in Arizona and Hurricane Irma in South Florida. He has worked for The Arizona Republic, The Associated Press and The South Florida Sun Sentinel in addition to working as a travel reporter in Central America and Southeast Asia. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ryan is happy to finally live in a city that has four seasons.
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