DAYTON, Ohio(WDTN)- The Honorable Sacred Knights, a KKK-affiliated group plans to spread a dividing message at Courthouse Square in Dayton on Saturday.
Across the river, however there will be a celebration with a different message hosted by the Dayton Unit NAACP.
“We will not tolerate hatred. We know how to be one Dayton. We know how to be one America. We know how to be one people,” said Derrick Foward, Dayton unit NAACP president.
The NAACP has pulled together more than 50 groups to join them in a three day community celebration.
The first event is ‘An Evening Discussion on Race Relations’ featuring a panel with several speakers. That is scheduled for Thursday at the Dayton Art Institute from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.. The event is free but requires tickets that can be obtained by calling the Dayton Art Institute.
On Saturday, a family-friendly event is scheduled at McIntosh Park. ‘An Afternoon of Love, Unity, Peace, and Inclusion’ will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The public is invited to the park for music, food, and special speakers. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to spend an afternoon at the park.
The celebration continues on Sunday with a cleansing of Courthouse Square from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Religious leaders from various denominations were invited to attend as well as the public.
“We don’t want anybody, any citizens, going down there until we have symbolically cleansed the square and get rid of that hatred,” Foward said.
Foward said he knows people from around the country will be watching the city this weekend to see how they react to the KKK-affiliated group’s presence. He said the number of people coming together for their alternate events is proof of the power love has over hate.
“They don’t want to be involved with what’s going on downtown. They want people to know that Dayton, Ohio stood strong amid some adversity in terms of people come from a different community a different state to impede on our Dayton values,” Foward said.
He wants it to be clear, the alternate events are not rallies or counter protest.
“We want people to come out and see the great diversity and the rich diversity of Dayton, Ohio,” Foward said.
The NAACP said they commend the hard work of local law enforcement and are confident in law enformcent’s ability to keep people safe throughout the city.
“They’re equipped to handle this particular event. There will not be a Charlottesville in Dayton, Ohio,” Foward said.