LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When protesters marched past Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, they looked up and noticed that a network TV camera, normally aimed at the track, was pointed down at them.
For many who gathered outside the iconic racetrack to demand justice in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor at the hands of Louisville Metro Police officers, that moment is why they say their day of demonstrations was successful.
A banner pinned to the Big Four Bridge summed up the mission of protests outside Churchill Downs: "No Justice, No Derby."
"We don't want mint juleps," one demonstrator said during a rally at South Central Park. "We want justice."
"There will be no celebration, there will be no business as usual while we are in pain," added Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League. "... Today we have decided you will have no peace, Louisville. No peace until we have our justice."
The day began, however, with a gathering in opposition to the social justice demonstrations.
Assembled by a man known as The Angry Viking, an armed militia that called themselves "American Freedom Fighters" gathered at Cox Park. Members of the group, some displaying Three Percenters insignias, said they were in town to keep the peace.
Maybe the testiest moment of Derby day happened a few hours later at Jefferson Square Park, where that so-called "patriot" group exchanged words with protesters who’ve demonstrated there for months. At one point, two men began shoving each other.
The armed militia members eventually left downtown, but the incident left protesters wondering why LMPD did not show up to break up the confrontation.
During a briefing Saturday night, LMPD Deputy Chief Lavita Chavous said police were staged near the confrontation downtown but did not want to heighten tensions by moving into the area.
"Sometimes when we go into a situation or area it may escalate the situation and tensions may rise," Chavous said. "So we monitored the situation and looked to see that both parties were trying to break apart, and so we had no need, really, to go into the situation until it was safe to do so."
More protesters gathered around 4:30 p.m. at South Central Park. Led by Rev. Tim Findley of Louisville's Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center, a group of hundreds marched to and around Churchill Downs’ gated perimeter, stopping along the backside to chant at the horses and officers on the other side of the fence.
Minutes later, they marched to the front entrance, where around 200 members of an armed Black militia, the "Not F***ing Around Coalition" (NFAC), sent a message by lining up and eventually marching down Taylor Boulevard before the race started.
"When they start the race, ain't nobody going to be enjoying themselves," NFAC leader John "Grandmaster Jay" Johnson said. "You see, they're looking at us right now. They really don't give a damn about no race. Louisville, y'all brought this on yourself."
The NFAC, which first visited Louisville in July, arrived in the city again Friday night and congregated Saturday afternoon at G.G. Moore Park. After leaving Churchill Downs, militia members returned to the park, where they later dispersed.
Findley’s protesters, meanwhile, remained outside the track, shouting and making noise as the race happened. Once the race was over, Findley used a megaphone to address the demonstrators, saying "This is just the beginning."
While Findley spoke, a plane pulling a banner that read, "Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor," flew overhead.