DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – An application allowing an Indiana-based group to rally at Courthouse Square this September has not yet been approved, but the county and the city are nonetheless discussing how to handle the situation.
A UD professor who studies hate groups says the response to last year’s rally would be a good template to start from. Logistically last year, the hate group was buried in the back of Courthouse Square, their message was drowned out by thousands of counter protesters, and they were physically separated from the crowd by two layers of fencing and mounted police.
Professor Art Jipson says the community would do well to increase the social response this time around.
Dr. Jipson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work. He says, “The bar that they’ve set is remarkably low. They simply need to hold an event.”
Dr. Jipson says success is a relative term for the Indiana-based hate group that applied to hold another rally in Dayton’s Courthouse Square this fall. But he also says the community response can also be deemed a success, even if the application is approved, as evidenced by the 2019 response.
“I think the counter protesters very cleverly understood that it was about violent confrontation, it was simply about generating a different message.”
On the application, the group lists the projected attendance at 10-20 people, the same number on last year’s application when only nine people showed up. Multiple lines of fencing, mounted police, even city trucks helped prevent violence, and hundreds of counter-protestors gathered across the street and at several community rallies throughout the city.
Dr. Jipson says, “Efforts to draw attention away from the clan, to community level initiatives and programs and support, is a wonderful initiative.” Jipson has studied hate groups and rallies throughout his career. He says the logistical response has been sharpened, but communities, including the Miami Valley, can still strengthen their social response.
“Consider how can we build on this successful counter protest. Redirect that interest toward positive initiatives in the community, positive programs in the community.”
At this time the county is choosing not to respond to the hate group’s application or the mayor’s comments about sharing the financial burden.