Recruitment flyers promoting an organization called “Patriot Front” were found in Dayton’s South Park neighborhood this week, prompting residents to send a message to the anonymous canvassers.
“No nazis allowed” and “Black Lives Matter” were messages sounded over a megaphone in front of the Ghostlight Coffee shop on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Clover Street as a group of about 15 protesters gathered early Saturday afternoon.
Towards the end of the planned protest, a clash escalated between two men driving by in a truck and the group of protesters. Multiple Dayton police arrived on scene and two people, a protester and one man from the truck, were taken into custody and placed in the back of an ambulance.
Dayton police said the altercation was under investigation and they could not comment.
The Patriot Front posters posted on various street posts in the neighborhood this week read “American is not for sale.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Patriot Front is a white nationalist hate group.
“(Patriot Front) formed in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, of August 12, 2017,” according to SPLC. “The organization broke off from Vanguard America (VA), a neo-Nazi group that participated in the chaotic demonstration. PF’s founder, Thomas Rousseau, led VA members during “Unite the Right,” including James Alex Fields, Jr., the young man accused of murdering anti-racist protester Heather Heyer after fatally driving his vehicle into a crowd of protesters.”
It was not clear how many posters in total were found in the neighborhood.
“Patriot Front isn’t really patriotic,” said Alexander Fred, Dayton resident and member of Miami Valley Abolitionists. “If you’re really patriotic, you don’t stand for nazis, you stand against them. And that’s what we’re here out here today to say, ‘No nazis in Dayton.’ It’s really that simple.”
Miami Valley Abolitionist said this was the first they have heard of Patriot Front propaganda found in the Dayton area, though a few years ago, Vanguard America posters were posted throughout Yellow Springs, Fred said. Even if only one poster was found, MVA said groups like Patriot Front have a history of coming into neighborhoods and canvassing for attention so “it’s important to react immediately.”
On Aug. 4, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Rousseau, Patriot Front founder, and two other men were arrested in Weatherford, Texas and charged with criminal mischief. They have since been released.
“The Parker County Sheriff’s Department arrested the three men on Saturday after watching them place stickers on two different signs on the Parker County Courthouse lawn, according to the men’s arrest warrants,” Star - Telegram reported.
“We think it’s possible that they’re coming down to Dayton to see if they can get a foot-hold here but we don’t know that,” Fred said.