About 30 people attended the last of three town hall meetings held by A Better Dayton Coalition to hear how the group would counter protest a Ku Klux Klan rally in Dayton on May 25. Marlon Aldridge, with microphone, provides details Thursday. At left are Yolanda Simpson and Bill Burke. At right is Rev. Chad White. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

Coming KKK rally in Dayton prompts flurry of protest training

How to keep the calm while confronting a KKK group is the focus of meetings and training sessions in the two weeks left before the Honorable Sacred Knights plan to rally on Courthouse Square in Dayton.

“We want people to remain safe and law-abiding,” said Jared Grandy, Dayton’s Community-Police Relations coordinator. “If people decide to go downtown and participate in any way with the rally, we want to make sure that they are not the ones getting arrested when they are not the ones who are spewing the message of hate.”

MORE: Communication key to Klan group rally in Dayton, Charlottesville survivor says

Dayton police officials will address the public’s safety concerns about the May 25 Klan rally at a Community Police Council meeting Tuesday. The focus of three subsequent meetings is specifically to train people to make good choices when tensions are running high.

Showing Up for Racial Justice Greater Dayton, or SURJ, will provide de-escalation training on Wednesday and event marshal training Saturday. Next week, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service will hold its event marshal training.

SURJ Greater Dayton’s de-escalation training is geared toward those joining an affiliation of civil rights groups that has planned for months to be opposite the Honorable Sacred Knights downtown.

“We want to be as supportive as possible to A Better Dayton Coalition and their leadership because it is such a risk they are taking by organizing this protest and putting themselves out there,” said Ri Molnar, a local SURJ leader.

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Molnar said the de-escalation training will empower people to make the right choice in a crisis by not allowing oneself to be provoked into a bad decision. It also stresses a buddy system approach.

A counter protester’s loud opposition to the Klan group, however fervent, should not be confused with escalation, Molnar said.

“I don’t think that there is any problem with someone being impassioned in their response to a domestic terrorist organization that has an historical legacy of lynching black men,” Molnar said. “We just want to make sure people have the resources they need to navigate that in a way that will end up the way that they want it to. And that is to be able to make the choices you want to make in the moment.”

The event marshal training Saturday will teach counter protesters their rights and how to “anticipate escalation from the police and strategize how to respond to that,” she said.

MORE: Local activists reveal plan for Klan counter protest in Dayton

SURJ has invited the National Lawyers Guild to monitor how police respond to protesters. If counter protesters are arrested, the attorneys will work to get unconstitutional charges dropped and make sure people spend the shortest amount of time in jail, Molnar said.

The U.S. Department of Justice in conjunction with the Dayton Community Police Council will provide event marshal training on May 22, three days before the Honorable Sacred Knights set up on Courthouse Square.

“This is an opportunity for lay citizens to receive training in how to implement some crowd control measures, how to be watchful, how to plan for in the event that something goes awry,” Grandy said.

Daedra A. Von Mike McGhee, a Justice Department conciliation specialist, will provide the training, though last month she told those in Dayton that the federal department’s recommendation was to ignore the Klan.

RELATED: Groups like the KKK preach white power but shun ‘hate’ label

“Stay away,” she said. “But obviously if you choose to go, I still would not engage … There’s no way to engage peacefully or intellectually or any other way that would be positive for the community.”

Grandy said the last thing the community needs are news clips and viral videos of law officers detaining citizens protesting the rally.

“We just want to make sure people exercise their right to protest and assemble, but we want to make sure people stay safe, out of jail and off the news,” he said.

MORE: Klan rally part of hate crime discussion: ‘There’s just a lot of angst out there’

While thousands might behave respectfully, the greatest worry might be a single agitator, Molnar said.

“Look at Charlottesville … there was loss of life. There are people who are living with disabilities from injuries,” she said. “That was just a lone agent who was inspired and encouraged by hate speech to go out an attempt mass murder.”

“So we are aware of the risks as we are going in to protest.”

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