FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 file photo, white nationalist demonstrators walk into the entrance of Lee Park surrounded by counter demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va. Conservative activists and leftist counter-protesters prepare for a showdown on Boston Common, Saturday, Aug. 19, that could draw thousands a week after a demonstration in Virginia turned deadly. Boston’s rally is the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major U.S. city since a car plowed into counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, killing a woman and injuring scores of others.
Photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber
Photo: AP Photo/Steve Helber

Dem Head David Pepper: Ohio ‘epicenter of hate group activity’

Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper is concerned the state is becoming a hotbed for hate.  

His statement, reported by the Columbus Dispatch, came a week after the Charlottesville protests - where a white supremacist from Kentucky, now living near Toledo - ran over a woman killing her; and where several of those identified at the white nationalist march were from Ohio. 

Later in the week The Daily Stormer, a popular racist website based in Ohio, was knocked off the internet. Statistics from the FBI rank Ohio third in the U.S. for the number of reported hate crimes, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports Ohio eighth in the country in number of active hate groups.

Related: Local lawmaker opposes removal of Confederate monuments 

KKK: ‘We’re more of a civil rights organization now 

Pepper commented on these issues during a press call Friday with State Rep. Stephanie Howse of Cleveland, president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. 

“People are very quick to attribute this to being a Southern issue (and) we dismiss it as happening somewhere else,” Pepper said. “Ohio is unfortunately in the middle of this problem.”

Pepper said when Democratic party members protest Trump’s recent visit to Youngstown, college-aged men counter-protested with white supremacist flags.

Howse was critical of Rep. Candice Keller of Middletown, who made statements about statues and the Democratic party history with white nationalism, as well as her appearance on The Sonny Thomas Show, the Springboro Tea Party founder and white power advocate. 

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