With racial tensions rising across the country at a fever pitch, one racist group’s hateful plans to hold a white nationalist rally in Ohio was being threatened by a new Black Lives Matter chapter.
Black Lives Matter Dayton was expected to launch on Saturday, the same day a so-called Honorable Sacred Knights rally was scheduled to take place in Dayton. The hate group is affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. Black Lives Matter Dayton organizer Carlos Buford explained what it was hoping to accomplish Saturday and beyond.
“Our Black community is facing astronomical levels of systemic racism and the launch of Black Lives Matter Dayton would like to be that bridge of hope for Black citizens by focusing on challenging laws and policies that keep Black people and communities oppressed and terrorized by police brutality,” Buford wrote on the group’s GoFundMe page.
Black Lives Matter Dayton applied to host a counter event nearby and on the same day and time as the KKK rally, but it was denied after venue management talked to city and police officials. Yet openly racist white people with weapons were apparently readily granted permission to rally just two blocks away.
The KKK rally was slated to take place at Dayton’s Courthouse Square, which is owned by Montgomery County. Ten to 20 people wearing masks or bandannas were expected to participate in the rally. The city has been on edge about the Saturday’s event since the KKK’s permit was approved in February. City officials attempted to sue the group in March to prevent the rally claiming the Knights violated Ohio law by holding a military-style rally and pointed out the fact that the group intended to bring weapons.
Several town halls and events, some of them hosted by the Dayton chapter of the NAACP, have been held throughout the city to prepare residents for the “powder keg,” as one local rabbi called it.
“Courthouse Square will be a powder keg on the 25th,” Rabbi Ari Ballaban wrote in a statement. “Not only will the KKK be present, but there will likely be thousands of angry counter-protestors there, many bused in from around the region. I trust our local police to ensure Dayton not become the next Charlottesville, but I still wouldn’t recommend someone I loved place themselves in such a situation.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, urged residents to avoid the area where the rally was scheduled to be held as she expected there to be a clash between the KKK group and counter-protesters.
“The City Commission and I hope that May 25 can be remembered not as a day of hatred and bigotry, but as a day that our community demonstrated that we are united against hate,” Whaley said.