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Armed Trump supporters gather near Churchill Downs ahead of Kentucky Derby protests

Heavily armed pro-Trump activists and far-right militia members have gathered near Churchill Downs in Louisville vowing to protect the city ahead of a day of Black Lives Matter protests scheduled to kick off during the annual Kentucky Derby. 

Dozens of men dressed in military gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons were out in force at Cox Park on Saturday after a number of local social justice organizations announced plans to rally over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor.  

A group of self-described ‘patriots’ and militia members led by a far-right activist identified as ‘The Angry Viking’ were seen toting guns, American flags, and Trump 2020 signs as they patrolled the area ahead of the demonstrations. 

A man holding a semi-automatic shotgun stands in front of Dylan Stevens, who calls himself 'The Angry Viking' at a gathering of far-right activists and self-described militia on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville

A man holding a semi-automatic shotgun stands in front of Dylan Stevens, who calls himself ‘The Angry Viking’ at a gathering of far-right activists and self-described militia on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville

Dozens of men dressed in military gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons were out in force at Cox Park on Saturday ahead of planned demonstrations demanding justice for Breonna Taylor

Dozens of men dressed in military gear and armed with semi-automatic weapons were out in force at Cox Park on Saturday ahead of planned demonstrations demanding justice for Breonna Taylor 

A man stands as security during the rally on Saturday. The group said it planned to protect the city from any destruction brought by protesters

A man stands as security during the rally on Saturday. The group said it planned to protect the city from any destruction brought by protesters 

The group told local news stations they are fed up with the protests and destruction that have rocked the country over the past three months and were there to defend the city from any chaos that’s to come.  

The death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman shot and killed by Louisville police in her apartment in March, has fueled tense demonstrations for 100 consecutive days in the city. 

The three officers involved in her death have not been charged.

The case remains under investigation however, protesters vowed to take to the streets during famous horse racing event if investigators hadn’t come to a decision ahead of the weekend. 

The prospect of unrest on Derby day has its participants unsure what to expect.  

None of the cheering – or cursing after losing wagers – from 150,000 fans will be heard this year at Churchill Downs, where America’s longest continuously held sports event will go on Saturday, four months later than usual. 

The track initially planned to allow 23,000 fans to attend until escalating positivity rates for COVID-19 in Louisville dictated otherwise. 

Far-right activists and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020.  REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Far-right activists and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

Far-right activist and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Far-right activist and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Far-right activists and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Far-right activists and self-described militia members gather for a rally on the day of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. September 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

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