A local group is moving forward with plans for a counter-protest in downtown Dayton during the Honorable Sacred Knights’s rally set for May 25, despite calls from local officials, law enforcement and the NAACP to avoid the area that day.
A Better Dayton Coalition is compromised of community members and several civil rights organizations, including Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, the Dayton chapter of the New Black Panther Party and the Dayton Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Honorable Sacred Knights, a KKK-affiliated group based in Indiana, is set to demonstrate in Courthouse Square on May 25.
A Better Dayton Coalition has announced plans to counter-protest on North Main Street near Courthouse Square during the rally.
“I see the Klan was permitted to rally, and I was like. ‘What?'” said Bill Burke, who lives in Xenia. “So I said, ‘Not in my house.'”
Burke was a counter-protester at the Charlottesville rally in 2017 and was seriously injured when a car plowed into the crowd, leaving one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, dead.
He said he plans to counter-protest against the Honorable Sacred Knights’s rally and shared important takeaways from his past experience during a meeting Thursday night.
“The main thing is safety,” Burke said. “And stay in groups.”
Organizers of the counter-protest have been in contact with Dayton police to ensure everyone stays safe as they demonstrate on North Main Street, according to Yolanda Simpson of Black Lives Matter Miami Valley.
“People need to understand that they’re coming to make sure they keep the peace, and that was important as well,” she said of the police.
Officers attended the Thursday night meeting and took questions from community members, saying Courthouse Square will be fenced off once the KKK-affiliated demonstration begins.
During the meeting, organizers of the counter-protest encouraged those joining them to wear red so counter-protesters can identify who’s a member of their group.
Some people at the meeting told 2 NEWS they remain optimistic the demonstrations will not become violent.
But leaders of A Better Dayton Coalition urge anyone concerned about safety to stay away from downtown the day of the rally.
“There’ll probably be more counter-protesters than there are going to be people associated with hate groups,” said Marlon Aldridge, a member of the coalition. “It’s just a personal choice.”
Officers at the meeting said there will be a police perimeter around Courthouse Square to ensure people are not jumping the gates that will be set up.
A Better Dayton Coalition will also have about 50 volunteers that will act as security for their demonstrators, according to organizers.