In February, Montgomery County approved a permit for the KKK-affiliated Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana to gather in downtown Dayton on May 25.
Now, as a result, more than 1,000 counter-protesters are expected to come to Dayton to demonstrate against the KKK. Members from the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who were rejected by the original Black Panther party as a racist hate group, will be there along with members of the Antifa movement and other protestors from a number of left-wing and anti-racist groups.
Since the permit approval, local groups have expressed their distaste and concerns over the planned demonstration. But despite the backlash, locals also understand and support the constitutional right for free speech and agree it should be upheld.
The director of Dayton’s Jewish Community Relations Council, Rabbi Ari Ballaban, warned the Jewish community that there is potential for violence at the Saturday demonstration and said the counter protests will be a “powder keg.” In a statement about the rally, Ballaban wrote, “Courthouse Square will be a powder keg on the 25th. Not only will the KKK be present, but there will likely be thousands of angry counter-protestors there, many bused in from around the region.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The rabbi continued, “I trust our local police to ensure Dayton not become the next Charlottesville, but I still wouldn’t recommend someone I loved place themselves in such a situation.” In 2017, Charlottesville, VA held a white supremacist rally that led to violence between far-right and antifascist protesters that eventually claimed the life of Heather Heyer.
In a separate statement, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton Cathy Gardner, seconded Ballaban’s concerns. She said, “The threat for potential danger will be high. We know the best option is to stay as far away as possible from Courthouse Square.”
Approximately 20 KKK demonstrators will be wearing face coverings and carrying legally sanctioned firearms, according to Robert Morgan from the KKK group. However, they will not be allowed to carry assault rifles or bats during the protest.