As hooded and robed members of the Ku Klux Klan walk down a sidewalk in Yellow Springs to protest racial discrimination against whites, protesters to their appearance carry a “stop racism” sign. Hundreds of protesters gathered to show their disapproval to the KKK’s protest, and the event was without arrests. JIM WITMER / STAFF
Photo: JIM WITMER
Photo: JIM WITMER

Klan-affiliated group seeks permit for Dayton rally

Montgomery County has received a permit request for a potential rally at Courthouse Square over Memorial Day weekend from a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group.

Members of an organization that calls itself the Honorable Sacred Knights have requested a permit to hold a rally at Dayton’s Courthouse Square on May 25.

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The people seeking the permit asked county officials if their names could be redacted from the permit but were told no because the permit is a public record, according to a county spokeswoman. The county is attempting to verify the names the applicants eventually provided and have not yet issued the permit. Permits are not granted without verifiable names, according to the county.

Dayton police were made aware of a permit request made under the organization name Honorable Sacred Knights, according to a department spokeswoman.

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Dayton police are in the process of communicating with the group to gather additional information about any proposed plan, according to the department.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said that local officials have had one meeting to discuss the application and lay the groundwork for any necessary security measures. Since the event is downtown, the city is the lead planning agency, but the sheriff’s office would be involved, he said.

“We have a dual team that is mainly for crowd control that I’m sure would be ready if this goes,” Streck said.

“Between us and Dayton, we are taking it very seriously, and we will make sure every resource is here to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

The rally is scheduled from 1-3 p.m. on May 25, according to a tweet Thursday from the Honorable Sacred Knights’s Twitter handle.

“All SUPPORTERS welcome. If you do not support us, there’s no need to attend,” the tweet reads. Earlier messages from the twitter account included claims that the group is not white-supremacist but is ‘the Klan of 2018.’

A Feb. 5 Facebook post from a page by the same name also references a May 25 event in Dayton. The Honorable Sacred Knights page indicates the group is based in Madison, Ind., about 120 miles southwest of Dayton.

In September the group 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.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors domestic hate and extremist groups, first took note of the Honorable Sacred Knights in 2017, said Heidi Beirich, an SPLC spokeswoman.

Through last year, the group became more active, frequently posting online, including videos on YouTube that confirmed an active, steady membership of about a dozen, Beirich said.

The SPLC will add the Honorable Sacred Knights to its hate map next week during an update to reflect activities during 2018.

Five men with torches —four in robes and hoods — circle a cross while one records a video, which was posted online Jan. 26. In the background is an American flag and Confederate battle flag. The five come together, light a cross and bagpipe version of Amazing Grace begins playing.

“This is white pride, this is white power, this is who we are. If we do not do this, then nobody else will,” says the leader followed by a string of racial epithets and chants of “white power.”

Attempts to reach members of the group by phone and email were unsuccessful.

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Derrick Foward, Dayton Unit NAACP president, said the Klan group, as with any, has the right to assemble.

“The Dayton NAACP will respect their rights to assembly,” he said. “Our hope is that they don’t come with any type of hate message, that they come in a spirit of peace and love. They can share their viewpoints about how they feel.”

Foward said the Klan last rallied downtown in 1994 and the community would respond similarly if another group shows up this May.

“We will probably do the same thing they did years ago when there was a rally at Courthouse Square: We will do a symbolic washing of their footprints away — cleansing of the area that they rallied in.”

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