Update: Police officials are investigating the shooting as a negligent discharge.
Original story below.
Members of a heavily armed black militia group and Black Lives Matter protesters were among the groups demonstrating on July 25 in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, where at a staging area earlier in the day three people were injured in a shooting, local media reported.
Police said at least three people were injured in a shooting at Baxter Park, WHAS11 reported. Local journalists covering the day’s protests reported they saw members of the Louisville Metro Police Department confiscate a gun from members of the NFAC militia group, which stands for “Not [Expletive] Around Coalition.”
WHAS11 reporter Jessie Cohen posted photos from the scene on Twitter, showing some people hiding behind vehicles, others kneeling, and others standing by taking pictures on cellphones.
She wrote, “We just watched two people be taken onto stretchers at Baxter square on 12th and Jefferson. Metro safe has confirmed reports of shootings & that there are multiple victims. We heard the noises when people scattered to get behind cars, & to take a knee.”
Police in another photo posted by Cohen were setting up yellow tape in a park, while NFAC militia members took a knee on the grass nearby, while another photo showed what appears to be a police officer holding a shotgun by its barrel, with Cohen writing in the caption: “We just watched LMPD take a shotgun from the scene that was within the perimeter of their tape.”
Cohen later posted a photo showing members of the NFAC militia standing at the staging area in the park, with the caption: “One of the members of the NFAC now talking to the crowd who are NOT NFAC members says ‘We had a little accident, it happens,’” in an apparent reference to the earlier shooting.
Several citizen journalists on the scene recording video of the protests reported that the shooting involved an NFAC member accidentally discharging their weapon, leading to the injuries.
On July 24, Louisville Metro Councilman Kevin Kramer had urged people to stay away from the downtown area on the day of the protests, WDRB reports.
“The potential for violence will be heightened as we will more than likely have a number of highly armed groups representing very different viewpoints as well as other groups all situated within a block of each other,” he said.
“While efforts are being made to ensure a safe environment to all persons present, I would caution you that the potential for violence will exist.”
Video from the scene showed protesters of unknown affiliation walking near the staging area in the park, some holding signs. One protester seen in the footage held a sign with the words, “I can’t breathe,” in reference to the police custody death of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis in May when an officer knelt on his neck while he communicated having trouble breathing. The incident sparked widespread protests against police brutality, although some protests have adopted a broader agenda of drawing attention to the problem of racism, while others have called for defunding the police. Some protests have been hijacked by far-left groups such as Antifa with an apparent agenda of overthrowing social order.
Video later posted by Cohen shows members of the militia walking down the street. A live stream from the area posted by WHAS11 shows demonstrators walking peacefully, with the station reporting chants of “Breonna Taylor” and “Justice for Breonna.”
Taylor was killed on March 13 inside her Louisville apartment by police executing a “no knock” warrant in search of a drug dealer who had a suspected connection with her address. No drugs were found at the scene.
A man calling himself Grand Master Jay, identified by local media as the leader of the group, was cited as saying that the militia was formed to address grievances about the government.
“Once it gets to that point where it looks like the government is non-responsive to the will of the people, the Constitution says to the form of the militia to address the grievances of the people,” Grand Master Jay said, WRDB reports.
“I didn’t write it. They wrote it. We just abide by it. So that’s our next destination, because when it looks like the government is being indifferent to the people, the people have the right to form themselves—and arm themselves—to ask those questions.”
This is a developing story.