DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Tuesday morning, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley sent out a video message asking asking everyone to avoid the downtown area Saturday when the Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana will hold their rally.
She said a number of events are being planned in other parts of the city as part of the Dayton United Against Hate campaign to counter the group’s message.
Whaley said she was disheartened to learn the group wanted to host their hate rally in Courthouse Square, and said this does not reflect the city’s values.
She said she hopes May 25 will be remembered not as a day of prejudice, but pride as the community unites against hate.
“Extremists such as this hate group are not interested in a conversation and try to use these events to provoke responses from the crowd,” said Whaley. “Our goal for May 25 is to ensure that everyone in our community is safe and that we meet this attack on our values by celebrating what makes Dayton great.”
She said city commission has been working with neighborhood leaders to organize other events that will highligh diversity and condemn hate.
“There are many ways to show this opposition, but for public safety we are encouraging people to avoid downtown during the rally on May 25th,” said Whaley.
That’s exactly what many residents like Susan Kistler and Ashley Leftwich plan to do.
They told 2 NEWS they encourage everyone else to do the same, and said even if your intention is just to run an errand, to save it for another day.
“If everyone continues with their lives and just ignores them, that is not giving them the power that they’re trying to attract,” said Kistler.
“With everything that’s going on, you don’t know how everyone is going to act,” said Leftwich. “Regardless of your skin color, they don’t know if you’re here to be counteractive or with the rally, so just stay away altogether, just for your protection.”
Many downtown businesses will be closed on Saturday along with road closures that will impact RTA routes.