DERBY DAY - JEFFERSON SQUARE - 9-5-2020 11.PNG

Opposing protesters face off in downtown Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 5, 2020. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A group calling itself "American Freedom Fighters" and protesters exchanged words at Jefferson Square Park on Saturday.

The confrontation happened for about an hour before the American Freedom Fighters, who marched downtown from Waterfront Park and included some who displayed Three Percenters' insignias, left the area. Words were exchanged, and at one point two men began shoving each other.

One of the group's leaders, who calls himself "The Angry Viking," told a small group of protesters that he expected to find the NFAC (Not F---ing Around Coalition) downtown. NFAC, another armed militia, is expected to protest on Saturday, which is the rescheduled date for the Kentucky Derby.

Louisville Metro Police arrived and directed protesters back to Jefferson Square Park as the American Freedom Fighters left the area.

LMPD Sgt. Lamont Washington said police had "several units" near Jefferson Square Park but decided against coming sooner because it was unsafe because of the crowd's size and because police did not want to escalate the situation.

"It was best to stage, call for additional resources to come downtown and see what developed," Washington said in a news release. "The two groups continued to engage, working to separate themselves from each other.

"As the tensions subsided and the groups began to move together down Jefferson toward Second Street, we were able to safely bring officers into the area to create a barrier across Jefferson to separate the two groups."

During a briefing Saturday night, LMPD Deputy Chief Lavita Chavous said police felt like the demonstrators from opposing groups "were able to pretty much manage it themselves and break apart themselves and separate the groups."

“While it was tense moments there and tensions did arise between both groups, they began a dialogue talking with each other and they had several individuals in both groups who tried to deescalate the situation and work together to separate both parties," Chavous said. 

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