A town hall meeting Saturday will be the first by a coalition of community groups formed to provide an alternate message to the one they say a Ku Klux Klan group will bring to Dayton in May.
Members of A Better Dayton Coalition announced their intention last month to lead a peaceful protest on May 25 at the same time the Honorable Sacred Knights, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group, plans to rally on Courthouse Square.
“We are adamant about our responsibility to promote a peaceful rally,” reads a post promoting the 4 p.m. town hall meeting at The Inspiration Church, 2900 Philadelphia Drive in Dayton.
“The community wants to hear from us and have some assurance we are not trying to create some kind of chaos or violence,” said Yolanda Simpson, a leader of Black Lives Matter Miami Valley. “It’s really important that we engage with the community, talk to the community, and we really want to use this town hall to focus solely on those issues.”
The meeting will be led by the Rev. Chad White, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Dayton president.
“The Klan is a hate group that despises anyone that is not a heterosexual white person. They are not a Christian group or a social group. But they are white supremacists that espouse malignant bigotry,” White said last month.
The Honorable Sacred Knights out of Madison, Ind., claims a local following, according to an email sent to this news organization.
“We have members that are from Dayton and members that currently live in Dayton. That is why we chose it,” was the anonymous reply from the group’s email account.
Other community groups affiliated with A Better Dayton Coalition include the Dayton chapter of the New Black Panther Party, Justice for Racial Equality and Brotherhood, National Congress on Faith and Social Justice, Sankofa Federation and Saving our Sons.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors domestic hate and extremist groups, added the Honorable Sacred Knights to its updated “hate map” last month. The SPLC also lists the New Black Panther Party as a hate group active in several states, but not Ohio.
Montgomery County initially denied the Klan group’s first permit application after determining it contained fictitious names, according to the county. The group re-submited the application with a legitimate name. After a review and consultation with law enforcement and legal counsel, the county approved the permit by applicant Robert Morgan, who provided a Madison, Ind., post office box address.
Local coalition members and others wanted county to deny the Honorable Sacred Knights a rally permit but it was ultimately approved on First Amendment grounds, said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert.
“We are legally obligated to provide access to public spaces where individuals can exercise their freedom of speech and right to assemble,” Colbert said. “More importantly, we will continue to work with our local law enforcement and community organizations to ensure public safety before, during, and after the planned event.”
In September, the Honorable Sacred Knights held a “kookout’ at a park in Madison, Ind. About 20 people attended the event and flew confederate flags. An estimated 300 people protested the group from across a fence erected at a city park, according to a report in the Louisville Courier Journal.