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Separatists: Members of an all-black militia group called NFAC hold an armed rally in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters

Separatists: Members of an all-black militia group called NFAC hold an armed rally in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters

REUTERS

Separatists: Members of an all-black militia group called NFAC hold an armed rally in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday. Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters

A show of force by an armed black militia group at the weekend has heightened fears of violent clashes on the streets of America.

An estimated 2,500 members of the "Not F***ing Around Coalition" (NFAC) took to the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, joining a protest march over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black nurse, in March.

Wearing black combat fatigues and carrying automatic weapons, the group outnumbered a small clutch of Three Percenters, a far-Right militia group who also made an appearance at the demonstration.

The two sides were kept apart by police, and the only incident came when three members of the NFAC sustained minor wounds when a gun discharged accidentally.

However, the appearance of the two armed militias raised the spectre that future confrontations may not pass off as peacefully.

The emergence of the NFAC comes in the wake of protests that have swept across the US following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May.

Entirely separate from the Black Lives Matter movement, the NFAC is willing to use violence as the group's leader "Grandmaster Jay", whose real name is John Fitzgerald Johnson, made clear.

"We are all ex-military, we are very disciplined, we are all expert shooters," he said in one recent interview.

"We don't want to negotiate, we don't want to sing songs, we don't bring signs to a gunfight. We are an eye-for-an-eye organisation."

Carrying echoes of the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, the NFAC is militant and separatist, he says.

"The solution is very simple," he explained.

" We follow a declaration of liberation, declaring every African descendant of the slave trade a political prisoner here in the United States.

"Then after that, the United States has a choice: they carve us a piece of land out here, we'll take Texas and let us do our own thing, or exodus out of here and go somewhere where they will give us land to build our own nation."

The group came to public attention at the beginning of the month when around 200 activists marched on Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, a site with carvings of Confederate soldiers. The location, which is associated with the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, was chosen in the hope of provoking a clash with the far-right.

However, with the Three Percenters nowhere to be seen, the NFAC claimed victory.

Clashes between rival groups have seen outbursts of violence, notably at Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, when a Unite The Right rally ended with the death of a counter-protester.

The emergence of the NFAC represents an escalation of tension, raising fears of a serious confrontation between left and right.

"I think the threat of things getting violent is very real. These are two groups carrying weapons," said Julia DeCook, assistant professor at the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago, who has studied the far-Right. "There has been a rise in paramilitary groups on the Right. These are people who have wanted to start a war."

Elsewhere, one person was shot during a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas, on Saturday night.

It is understood the victim, a protester who was carrying a rifle, was shot dead by the driver as he approached a car.

Violent clashes between police and protesters were reported in several other cities over the weekend.

In Seattle, police used pepper spray and stun grenades in an attempt to restore order. At least 45 people were arrested and several protesters and police officers were injured as Carmen Best, the city's police chief, declared a riot.

Further north, in Portland, Black Lives Matter protests entered their 59th day.

Chicago saw a series of demonstrations, with one protest calling for the police to be defunded, while another "Back the Blue" rally supported the police. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk