Montgomery County courts have approved a permit submitted by a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group. The permit will allow the group to rally on Courthouse Square in Dayton, Ohio in late May.
The group is known as The Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana. According to the permit application, they intend to congregate May 25th, 2019 with an estimated 10-20 plus individuals in downtown Dayton. The hate group initially applied for the permit under false names. They were quickly denied and forced to resubmit the application using legitimate names. Montgomery County then approved the re-submission with Robert Morgan of Madison, Indiana listed as the applicant.
“We are legally obligated to provide access to public spaces where individuals can exercise their freedom of speech and right to assemble,” said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert. “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.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center first took note of the Honorable Sacred Knights in 2017 and just added the Indiana group to its updated “hate map.” The SPLC monitors domestic hate and extremist groups. And clearly has eyes focused on this group and this possible disturbing event. The group has utilized social media and YouTube more actively, saturating pages with posts and videos, solidifying they do have active members .
The Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana claim the rally will engage in “education and public speaking” while at Courthouse Square from 1-3 p.m. on May 25th.
Efforts to reassure the public have been ignited. The backlash for this event can potentially create an even more tense environment. The Montgomery County Board of County Commissioners released a statement Friday saying, “We are troubled that an out-of-state group like this one has decided to come to our community. However, this is a constitutional issue. We cannot deny any group the ability to exercise their freedom of speech and assembly in a public space. We are focused on working with our diverse community organizations and local law enforcement to ensure that our citizens are safe during the event. We embrace our diversity, and we are committed to fostering an open and welcoming community for all our citizens. We are confident that our community will come together to send a message of tolerance, respect, openness, and kindness.”
Dayton City Commissioners have also released a statement. It said: “We condemn all forms of racism, prejudice, bigotry, and hate.
“Dayton is a community that welcomes all people. The foundation of our community is that we believe that everyone deserves to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. Regardless of race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, place of birth, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, or disability- you have a home in Dayton.”
“These protections are not without cost. The Freedoms of Speech and Assembly, that guarantee these protections, mean we must also allow space for those we disagree with to speak hatred, bigotry, and racism. Although it is painful, doing so ensures that our rights will not be restricted.
“It is in times like these that we are reminded that these freedoms give all communities, regardless of their beliefs or viewpoints, the ability to vocalize their opinions. It guarantees the right of civil rights leaders to protest racism, the LGBTQ+ community to host Pride; women to hold the Women’s March; scientists to hold climate change rallies; students to protest gun laws; and advocates to call out injustice at the border.
“We invite the applicants to reconsider their decision to hold their rally in our community. Hate is not a Dayton value.”