Klan rally’s $650K price tag worth a safe outcome, Dayton leaders say

The roughly $650,000 Dayton city officials estimate they spent providing security surrounding the May 25 rally of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group was money well spent to some city leaders.

This includes Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr., who noted the rally ended with no injuries, loss of life or property damage.

“The last thing we wanted to have happen here in Dayton was some of the kinds of things that happened in Charlottesville,” Mims said, referring to the violence that took place during in a 2017 Unite the Right rally.

Some citizens have criticized the city for not stopping the rally from happening and not finding a way to make the hate group cover the rally security costs.

But city officials and others have defended the amount of spending on security, saying it helped prevent what had the potential to be a violent tragedy.

MORE: Dayton rallies against KKK: ‘This ugly chapter is over,’ but work to be done

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city needed to be very, very prepared for the rally, and that level of preparation was expensive and time consuming.

“In addition to being a huge challenge and pain for members of our community, it was also an enormous time-suck for the organization,” Whaley said.

The city had to gather information and intelligence about the out-of-town hate group visitors and prepare the community for the best ways to respond to the unwanted event, she said.

Montgomery County approved the Courthouse Square permit requested by the KKK-affiliated Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana.

The security plan was a success considering there were no arrests, no uses of force by law enforcement and no one was harmed, Whaley said.

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The rally and counter protests meant dozens of different groups interacted, creating significant safety issues, especially considering that among the roughly 700 counterprotestors were people armed with about 75 semi-automatic rifles, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

“I know it seemed excessive to some. However, we were very concerned,” Dickstein said about the police presence and security measures.

But at a recent city commission meeting, local resident Tyrone Martin said the city failed its citizens by allowing a “terrorist” organization to come into Dayton to try to recruit more members.

“This is comparable to America allowing ISIS, the Taliban or any other global terrorist to come here and try to recruit members to attack America,” he said. “But that would never be allowed or accepted because of national security.”

Resident Cameron Walker said the government did not make citizens feel like it was there for their protection and to keep them safe, instead of an outside hate group.

She also said she does not understand why the bill for the security measures and police presence was not placed on the members of the Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana.

“We have to do event liability insurance when we want to hold events here, but this group, the taxpayers just had to pay for that,” she said. “We want to know, how do we resolve this price tag?”

Some counterprotestors at the rally asked the same question. Cincinnati sent the Klu Klux Klan a bill for $17,000 for security costs after they held a rally in the late 1990s.

PHOTOS: Crowds gather to counter KKK rally

Dayton’s primary goal was to keep everyone safe, which it accomplished with an effective safety plan, and the community responded to the hate rally with the right tone and message, said Dayton City Commissioner Darryl Fairchild.

However, Fairchild said some people didn’t feel that the security measures were for their and everyone else’s safety. He said the city should try to get that message across better.

Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward said the city made the right decision to “prepare for the worst and expect the best.”

“From a cost perspective, I think you had to do what you had to do, as it relates to ensuring the safety of our citizens,” he said.

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