Days after Montgomery County issued a permit to a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group to rally on Dayton’s Courthouse Square, a coalition of community groups mounted to counter the planned May 25 event.
“The Klan is a hate group that despises anyone that is not a heterosexual white person. They are not a Christian group or a social group. But they are white supremacists that espouse malignant bigotry,” said the Rev. Chad White, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Dayton president.
White led a Monday news conference at Mt. Enon Baptist Church in Dayton with representatives from other groups, including Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, Dayton chapter of the New Black Panther Party, Justice for Racial Equality and Brotherhood, National Congress on Faith and Social Justice, Sankofa Federation and Saving our Sons.
White said the coalition groups plan a series of town hall meetings and to peacefully protest across from the Honorable Sacred Knights, the KKK-affiliated organization out of Madison, Ind., that plans to rally from 1-3 p.m. May 25.
“Our goal is for us to get our message across without anyone getting arrested or anyone getting hurt,” said White, also a pastor at The Word Church. “We don’t want people to come in and place themselves in danger.”
The Honorable Sacred Knights claims a local following, according to an email sent to this news organization Monday.
“We have members that are from Dayton and members that currently live in Dayton. That is why we chose it,” was the anonymous reply from the group’s email account.
The local coalition on Monday said Montgomery Administrator Michael Colbert has a duty to explain to the community during town hall meetings why the Klan was provided access to Courthouse Square.
“There are people who need that clarity why the permit was issued, and particularly to such a hateful and venomous group,” White said.
Colbert cited the Honorable Sacred Knights’ First Amendment rights to assemble after the county’s decision was made public Friday.
“We are legally obligated to provide access to public spaces where individuals can exercise their freedom of speech and right to assemble,” Colbert said. “More importantly, we will continue to work with our local law enforcement and community organizations to ensure public safety before, during, and after the planned event.”
Just last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors domestic hate and extremist groups, added the Indiana group to its updated “hate map.” The SPLC also lists the New Black Panther Party as a hate group active in several states.
Donald Domineck, chair of the Dayton chapter of the New Black Panther Party, said a violent local response to the Klan’s activities will not be tolerated.
“We want to encourage the entire community to come out and support the counter rally, and we ask people to bring their signs and banners, but we want people to come in a non-violent posture. We want to encourage people to leave all their weapons — your sticks, your knives, your guns — at home. We won’t tolerate any type of violence.
The Klan group originally applied for the permit under fictitious names, according to the county, which had the group resubmit the application with a legitimate name. After a review and consultation with law enforcement and legal counsel, the county approved the permit by applicant Robert Morgan, who gave a Madison, Ind., post office box address.
The Honorable Sacred Knights will be engaged in “education and public speaking” at Courthouse Square with an estimated 10 to 20-plus individuals, according to the group’s permit application.
While the Klan group rallies on Courthouse Square, others will bring “a message of harmony and inclusion and tolerance and diversity,” said Yolanda Simpson of Black Lives Matter Miami Valley.
“This is a counter message so the city of Dayton and people outside of Dayton will know we are not a city of hate.”
In September, the Honorable Sacred Knights held a “kookout’ at a park in Madison, Ind. About 20 people attended the event and flew confederate flags. An estimated 300 people protested the group from across a fence erected at a city park, according to a Louisville Courier Journal report.