NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Gideon's Army tells the public that it's all about justice, peace and harmony.
But, buried among social media posts by some of the group's front-line leaders, NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered a controversial side of the politically connected group that most of the public has never seen.
Those posts include descriptions of white people as being a "pestilence" accidentally unleashed on the world by an ancient scientist, suggestions that police should be made to fear going into Black neighborhoods, even descriptions of Meharry Medical College's highly respected president, Dr. James Hildreth, as a "house n****r."
Gideon's Army founder Rasheedat Fetuga brushed aside such questions, insisting those comments by her team do not represent their real focus.
"We work to eliminate the root causes of the prison pipeline, save our children from death and incarceration, save all children from death and incarceration," Fetuga said.
Gideon's Army has received funding through private donations from progressive groups, local businesses, as well as grants from the Tennessee Department of Human Services and the Metro Development and Housing Agency.
It recently convinced the Metro Council to set aside $1 million for violence interruption programs, money that the group hopes to receive in the coming weeks.
Most of the public is more familiar with pleas by Gideon's Army leaders to "stop the violence" in North Nashville.
Less well known are views by Hambino Godbody, the group's lead violence interrupter, about white people.
“I’m talking about the Caucasian race, man. You know what I mean?" Godbody said in a video posted last year.
Watch selected posts from Godbody (language warning) below:
"Ever since they’ve been on this motherf**king planet, they have caused chaos, confusion, destruction.”
It was the murder of George Floyd that initially led Godbody to post the video about white people, but he recently reposted it, insisting: “What eye’m speaking is true history.”
“We need to come to our senses and realize they are who they are. Let’s quit trying to make them be what they are not – and that’s naturally good human beings -- because they are motherf**king not.
“When have any people on the Earth ever lived in peace with white people? I’ll wait. Yeah, I thought so. Never. Never. You cannot live in peace with them.”
Fetuga defended those comments.
"While George Floyd experienced the direct trauma of that, there is still a secondary trauma that we as Black people often do experience when we see someone strangled to death by the police."
Godbody even posted an article on Facebook that shares a Nation of Islam notion that an ancient scientist created Caucasians who "became an out of control pestilence to humanity and the planet itself." (A related post can be seen below.)
His Instagram bio describes him as a "five percenter," an apparent reference to an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam known for its controversial views on race.
We asked Fetuga, "I get being ticked off about racism but, if a White person said all Black people are bad, would you have problems with them getting taxpayer funding?"
"It's not the same situation," she answered. "Gideon's Army receives funding."
NewsChannel 5 noted, "And this is one of your top lieutenants saying this."
"Let me finish. We determine the direction and the mission of Gideon's Army."
In another post, the Gideon's Army leader posted a clip from the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan under the heading of "what does justice look like?"
"When we die and they die," Farrakhan said, "then soon we're going to sit at a table and talk about, 'We're tired, we want some of this Earth or we'll tear this goddamn country up."
Godbody declined NewsChannel 5's request for an interview.
Then, there’s Chef Mic True, Gideon’s Army's community director, a position that sometimes puts him on the streets with the area’s children.
“Y’all want to know what real kings, warriors and Gods do? Huh? They wage war on their enemies. We’ve been motherf**king passive too long,” True said in one Facebook video.
“Start teaching your children how to shoot. Start equipping your children with weapons. Teach them how to stick somebody with a knife.”
True recorded that rant after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, suggesting the community needed to be ready to defend itself.
But it didn’t stop there.
“I done said it when Daniel Hambrick was shot and I'm going to say it again: If any of you white mother**kers ever shoot my child, I swear to God I’m going to go motherf**king Baghdad around this b**ch.”
True had been front and center when Gideon’s Army accepted a $100,000 check from the gun-control group Moms Demand Action.
But listen to his ideas for dealing with issues like mass incarceration:
“Y’all want to know how to overturn the prisons? N****rs say f**k the system. Y’all know how many of us it is? Y’all know anything about prison riots? Huh? They ain’t got enough people to kill all of us. They ain’t got enough people to kill all of us.”
NewsChannel 5 Investigates requested an interview with True, but Fetuga declined to make him available.
We asked her, "Are those kinds of comments in keeping with your mission?"
"The police also call themselves Nashville's Guardians," she responded.
Still, we pushed, "But I'm asking about Gideon's Army."
"And every officer also holds different opinions," Fetuga continued.
After the George Floyd killing, True argued that the answer was to make police fear getting killed when they come into Black communities.
“We have got to level up. We have got to train ourselves. We have got to protect ourselves,” True said in another video.
“I know of incidents in Chicago where police tried to arrest people, and the city, like, man, they came out and wasn’t having it. The police n****r backed up and left, like, man we just gonna tuck our tail and leave, it ain’t even worth it. You see what I’m saying?
"Because they knew that them people they was dealing with, it was going to be a gunfight and those officers ain’t ready to die.”
Watch selected posts from Mic True (language warning) below:
NewsChannel 5 Investigates told Fetuga, "He's talking about wanting the community to threaten to kill cops."
"I don't take it that way," she insisted.
"I don't really want to get into a tit for tat with what one of my team members has said - especially in a time where we are feeling afraid for our lives."
Both Godbody and True have also posted misinformation about COVID vaccines -- at a time when the city has tried to convince residents to protect themselves from the virus.
“They’re herding a bunch of you motherf**kers to the death now with this vaccine sh*t," True said in a video posted in February.
The Gideon's Army leader even took aim at Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth and his impressive medical credentials.
“They’re using him to sell you the dream of safety because he studied epidemiology. He’s the leading doctor in infectious disease,” True said.
“All that means is that you learned how to be a good house n****r and do what they say do long enough to learn their mentality, and you’re the token boy, a poster boy to spread that infestation amongst our people.”
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Fetuga about whether she was concerned that her team's controversial views might reflect badly on Gideon's Army.
She insisted she is not.
"It is my hope that the people of Nashville will remember the origins of Gideon's Army and that the people of Nashville will know us by our work and by the results that we have had in Nashville in a short amount of time."
Gideon's Army exaggerates success in reducing violent crime
Video shows Gideon's Army employee toting 'AK-47 style weapon'
Gideon's Army gets tax dollars to work with police, but says 'we don't work with the police'
Did Gideon's Army ignore warning signs about local gang leader?