On May 25, an Indiana-based Ku Klux Klan organization attempted to hold a rally at Courthouse Square in Dayton, Ohio. When the racist rally was announced, local organizers and organizations came together to send a clear message that the broadest masses of workers reject all forms of divisiveness and bigotry.
A few weeks before the event, a consent decree was made between the Klan group and the city of Dayton, which prohibited the white supremacists from bringing bring rifles, shields or shotguns. Dayton Assistant Attorney Martin Noble said, “We don’t want them to have… anything that could be used as a weapon.” However, the decree did not forbid them from bringing small arms or masks.
On the day of the rally, only nine white supremacist terrorists were present, yet there to protect them was an entire army of police officers—650 cops were present in total. Many of them stood holding a 60-meter barricaded perimeter around the racists, facing the counter protesters. The surrounding streets were shut down days in advance, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was brought in to assist the security preparations. The city of Dayton spent $650,000 protecting the white supremacists. Protesters recognized which side of the conflict the police were on, chanting “Cops and the Klan go hand in hand!” Other chants included: “Black Lives Matter!” “The people united will never be defeated!” “Whose streets? Our streets!” among others.
Police estimates put the number of counter protesters at between 500 and 600. However many participants believe the number of anti-racists was much closer to a thousand. Leading up to the protest, the Dayton police department actively discouraged Dayton residents from attending the anti-Klan protest. Despite this, many community organizations, brought together by the A Better Dayton Coalition, stood in unity at the protest. These included the New Black Panther Party, Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, the Democratic Socialists of America, the American Indian Movement, Antifa, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and numerous religious groups .
Dayton is one of the most segregated cities in the country, with a history of redlining and police brutality. Despite this, May 25 showed that unity exists. The building of a mass-based revolutionary socialist movement is beginning to take shape—the only way to end systemic racism and white supremacy!