By Shane Paul Neil – Sep 4, 2020
The far-right patriot movement has long been a fringe factor in American politics, as racial upheaval, police brutality, and a not-so-hidden agenda from President Donald Trump have paved the way for wide-scale growth of the ideological militia movement. In 2008, according to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more than 500 militia groups, and the uptick in heavily armed protesters since has resulted in clashes around the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping Trump in office, and police brutality. The Not Fucking Around Coalition—better known as the NFAC—is the latest organization to join the likes of the Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, and the 3 Percenters, the nationwide entities that have taken root amid the craziness going on right now.
A self-described militia composed exclusively of Black members, the NFAC has appeared at the protests for Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Led by Grandmaster Jay ( John Fitzgerald Johnson), the NFAC has been posited as an “eye for an eye” organization, in opposition to those aforementioned organizations, and has loudly called for Black citizens to arm themselves in the face of white supremacy.
Below, we’ve put together a quick rundown of the organization and its Supreme Leader, why “hate group” doesn’t apply to it, and why you shouldn’t confuse the NFAC with Black Lives Matter.
What is the NFAC?
The NFAC is a militia comprised of Black members whose core is believed to be largely ex-military. The group, for the most part, is well run (some use an accidental firearm discharge as an example of its lack of organization), with all of its public actions being coordinated with law enforcement and local governments, which has resulted in no known violence. The first public appearance of the NFAC was at a KKK rally in Dayton, Ohio, in 2019. Grandmaster Jay told The Atlanta Black Star that the group stood guard to prevent a repeat of the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, in which five people in North Carolina were shot and killed by Nazis and Klansmen as citizens gathered for the start of an anti-racism protest. Last month, an organization stylized as NFAC UK participated with thousands of protesters who held an anti-racism rally outside the U.S. Embassy in London as Black Lives Matter demonstrations took place in cities across the U.K.
According to Grandmaster Jay, the reasoning for the group’s formation is simple. “We live in a world where racism is appearing to rear its ugly head again the way it did back in the Jim Crow days,” he tells Complex via Zoom. “We didn’t create that. It recreated itself. So it proved to be fertile ground for the creation of the NFAC, the same way it was fertile ground in the ’60s to create the Black Panthers.” The organization is roughly three years old, according to Grandmaster Jay, but only recently has the NFAC reached the nationwide discussion about race and police brutality, with a number of demonstrations in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and Louisville, Kentucky.
While the inner workings of the militia are only known to its leadership and key members, the total number of active participants in the organization is unknown, as well as where they are headquartered, or how they fund themselves.
Who is Grandmaster Jay?
John Fitzgerald Johnson, who also is known as Grandmaster Jay, is the enigmatic founder of the Not Fucking Around Coalition. Prior to his life in the militia, Jay was a rapper, producer, and DJ, as well as an Army veteran. He also ran as an independent in the 2016 presidential election. Additionally, he’s a “former director of a global cloud integration practice and solutions architect,” according to his campaign site. He managed to get his name on 47 state ballots, running under the progressive platform of “racism, women’s rights, and economic equality” as its three pillars. Self-financed and focused, the NFAC, Grandmaster Jay says, is neither protesters nor demonstrators, explaining to Roland Martin in a July interview, “We are a Black militia. We don’t come to chant. That’s not what we do.”
With the NFAC united under his guidance, he describes the group’s ethos as “an element that has always existed within America,” as he shared with The Atlanta Black Star last month. “You’ve always had a demographic of veterans … and grown adults who are law-abiding citizens who are responsible gun owners who understand the Constitution.”
What does the NFAC want?
According to Grandmaster Jay, the mission of the NFAC is two-fold. On one end, it means “the establishment of an infrastructure that can assist in being the framework for community, self-policing, and the protection of our own communities and our race.” And on the other end, the NFAC’s “ultimate goal” will be in the “facilitating of the exodus from this country of those who are willing to leave to go someplace else, where racism is not an issue.” Over Zoom, he expressed his sincere intent of enabling Black Americans to “determine their own destiny, determine their own economy, defend their own homeland, and build their own culture.”
Through these efforts, the NFAC encourages Black citizens with the means and ways to take advantage of the Second Amendment and their right to responsible gun ownership.
How does the NFAC recruit?
Amid explosive racial tensions, the vast majority of the NFAC’s visibility is a product of social media—particularly Instagram. Grandmaster Jay hosts a series of IG Live talks with titles such as “Facts Over Feelings,” in which he expounds on topics ranging from personal development to new developments involving the organization.
This may galvanize inquiring minds, but the road to becoming an actual member is fairly straightforward.
“The first thing they have to do is submit their information to us via email,” the Supreme Leader explains. “They then have to give us contact information on them and offer a valid reason why they would want to join our organization. The NFAC then runs a background check on the potential member. Lastly, prospective members are required to attend an NFAC protest.
Is the group related to Black Lives Matter?
No. Grandmaster Jay has gone out of his way to make it known that the NFAC has no “affiliations or ties” to Black Lives Matter. He has taken several opportunities to explain that he and the Not Fucking Around Coalition are not fans of the decentralize movement advocating for non-violent civil disobedience.
“Black Lives Matter is a failure,” he explains. “Black Lives Matter was the forefront of the pro-Black movement until it was hijacked by other entities, so it does not represent the will or the sentiment of the Black nation. Other groups, as far as their movements, we don’t really have a position on, but we are specifically adding that we will not be identified with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Is the NFAC a hate group?
The verdict has yet to come in. The organization is young, but has already had a few run-ins that call its motives into question. Outside of the negligent gun discharge from July, the NFAC has argued that the “LGBTQ+ agenda” is responsible for the Black Lives Matter movement’s “failings.” With Black members of the LGBTQ+ community being ostracized and subjected to white terrorism, one hopes that the NFAC is not fucking around when it comes to advocating for all Black people. According to Jay, “We’re not here to attack anyone. We’re not anti-anything. We don’t understand why we have to be anti-somebody because we love our people. There is no problem. Just because you love your people doesn’t mean you hate everybody else.”