Venue cites safety, turns away counter group on date of Klan rally in Dayton

The Levitt Pavilion Dayton celebrated its opening with a concert on Aug. 9 last year in downtown Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
The Levitt Pavilion Dayton celebrated its opening with a concert on Aug. 9 last year in downtown Dayton. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

A Black Lives Matter-named group has been turned away from holding an event at a Dayton concert venue at the same time a Ku Klux Klan group plans to rally downtown not two blocks away.

Lisa Wagner, executive director of Levitt Pavilion Dayton, said the determination was made after talking with police and city officials.

“The mission of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton is to bring all people together in a safe, family friendly environment to enjoy the power of free music,” she said. “After consulting with the Dayton Police Department and city of Dayton, there was enough uncertainty about safety on May 25th that a decision was made to not make the Levitt Pavilion available.”

Organizers were offered the venue on alternative dates, but they declined, Wagner said.

RELATED: Klan rally permit approved by Montgomery County: ‘We are legally obligated’

The Honorable Sacred Knights, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group out of Indiana, will rally May 25 on Courthouse Square with 10 to 20-plus individuals, according to the group’s permit application, which was approved by Montgomery County.

An apparent fledgling group set up a Facebook event, “The launch of Black Lives Matter Dayton,” which indicated it to be at Levitt Pavilion at the same time as the Klan group’s rally.

It’s unclear if the group has secured another venue that day. As of Friday afternoon, the Facebook event listing’s date, time and location remained unchanged. A message sent Thursday to the person listed as lead organizer of the group on a related GoFundMe page was not returned.

While Courthouse Square is county-owned property, policing the event will fall on the Dayton Police Department.

“A response plan is being developed to maintain the safety of all persons present at and in the vicinity of the venue location and the city at-large,” a department spokeswoman said Friday. “Our assessment will evaluate the relevant safety requirements, the type and number of city of Dayton police personnel required in addition to the need for other mutual aid resources.“

Black Lives Matter Dayton, the group that requested use of Levitt Pavilion, is not to be confused with Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, said Yolanda Simpson, a member of the latter organization.

RELATED: First community meeting set to counter Klan rally in Dayton

Black Lives Matter Miami Valley is a partner in the new A Better Dayton Coalition, formed last month “to make sure Daytonians know we do not accept that kind of hate-filled message in our city,” Simpson said.

The coalition is planning a peaceful counter protest during the Honorable Sacred Knights' rally by laying the groundwork with a series of town hall meetings. The first meeting is at 4 p.m. Saturday at The Inspiration Church, 2900 Philadelphia Drive in Dayton.

“We’re bringing a message of harmony and inclusion and tolerance and diversity,” Simpson said.

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