Dayton Against the Klan


Protesters in Dayton, Ohio, May 25th, 2019

On Saturday, May 25, Dayton, Ohio served as the staging ground for a long-awaited face-off between fascism and its opponents. Several months beforehand, a KKK-affiliated group out of Indiana (whose name isn’t even worth mentioning) announced their intention to hold a rally at Dayton’s Courthouse Square. Emboldened by the election of the neo-fascist Donald Trump in 2016 and the mounting tide of overt fascism in the United States in the years since then, the Klan hadn’t ventured into Dayton for a public event since 1994.

Remembering the hatred and violence that exploded in Charlottesville in 2017, Ohio’s “Gem City” initially braced for civil discord on a grand scale. In the weeks leading up to the event, the city announced road closures and mobilization of large numbers of police. Indeed, there was ultimately more effort by the city to protect the fascists from those who would show up to oppose them than to protect the community from the fascists. Citizens were repeatedly urged to stay away from downtown and the fascists themselves were provided with a fortified “safe space” that kept them far away from those who would oppose them. Somewhat ironically, heavily-armed police took up stations in front of Dayton’s Old Courthouse – a building that once hosted Abraham Lincoln – to stand guard on behalf of present-day proponents of the Confederacy.

But the community would not be discouraged from engaging in the critical mission of opposing fascism, particularly in light of the current socio-political climate in America. Members of area churches, representatives from political organizations throughout the region, fellow travelers, and concerned citizens braved scorching heat, large contingents of police in riot gear, and the plausible threat of provocateurs and covert agents, to stand against hate, racism, and fascism. An estimated crowd of over 600 people – including contingents from Marxist-Leninist organizations, democratic socialist groups, Black Panthers, and Antifa – were assembled on the street in front of Courthouse Square by the time that the Klan took to the street.

As for the Klan, their numbers didn’t even garner a double-digit headcount. A pathetic troupe of nine fascists goose-stepped around their pen for around two hours. Some waved the flags of the Klan and the Confederacy, while others strutted about with American flags. If they had any sort of coherent message, their words were drowned out by the chants, drumbeats, and brass instruments that blared back at them from across the square.

The city of Dayton reportedly spent $650,000 for arrangements and security for the Klan event, which ended without violence or police intervention. The episode received extensive coverage from local and regional media, as well as national, mainstream outlets, many of which highlighted the city government’s preparation efforts and the reactions of local businesses and institutions. But the biggest story and the true victory of the day belongs to the community-oriented, politically astute masses who stood boldly and collectively against fascism. The cohesion and solidarity on display in downtown Dayton on May 25 should serve as a reminder to the proponents of fascism and – their symbiotic allies, the ruling class – that they are hopelessly outnumbered and that working, class-conscious people are a powerful force that they cannot defeat.

Categories: U.S. News

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