I’ve been talking about the Scared Knights decision to come to Dayton since March. Yesterday it finally happened. And I was there.
I want to start with the biggest and most important point:
Everything went off just fine. There were nine scared knights that showed up downtown, and five to six hundred counter-protesters.
A loud and enthusiastic crowd of 500 to 600 people had little trouble drowning out the message of nine members of a hate group Saturday on Courthouse Square.https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/dayton-rallies-against-kkk-this-ugly-chapter-over-but-work-done/m2q3WMtQe5ZPxlYCEL3W1M/
The Indiana KKK group’s rally and counter-protest events resulted in no arrests, no uses of force by police, and no injuries.
All sorts of people came out to stand against racism. We may not have agreed on everything – or even most things – but we sure as hell agree that racists can get out of Dayton.
There are a lot more photos over at The Dayton Daily News.
The most powerful moment for me was captured in these two videos. Present were Black Lives Matter, the local Black Panthers, antifa, democratic socialists, black bloc, church groups, atheists, libertarians, furries, LGBTQI+ groups, gun clubs, and unaffiliated folks like me. And there was singing and chanting and drumming and shouting, and we were all together to stand against racists.
It was fucking beautiful.
When I told people I was going downtown to counter-protest, some of my acquaintances were concerned about my safety. Not from the scared knights, but because “the Black Panthers will be there.”
Likewise, the police seemed to be much more concerned about the anti-racist crowd. Mind you, the police officers were very professional and polite to me (though I did hear some badgering antifa folks), but it sure seemed like the mounted officers blocking an alleyway behind me – for example – were paying a lot more attention to the counter-protesters instead of the Klansmen.
At the very least, it didn’t seem like they were there guarding us.
The large banners that we were told were planned to hang behind the scared knights were nowhere to be seen. Instead, there were a few banners affixed to concrete barricades. They were hard to see through the fencing and other barricades before the crowd showed up, and were invisible afterward. Buses displayed “United Against Hate” on their tickers, but as far as the visible official city response at the actual site… well, yeah, that was about it. (There was apparently a big sign elsewhere downtown, but I didn’t see it, even when hunting for a parking space.)
However, the people and businesses of the city showed up. Signs everywhere – even businesses nowhere near downtown – made sure their feelings were quite clear to any racists who happened by.
And Sinclair Community College – which is in downtown Dayton – made sure their stance was clear with a giant banner.
And that brings us to the cost:
The early cost of protecting the Klan and counter-protesters during the rally and the alternate events Saturday is roughly $650,000, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. Personnel costs are estimated at $250,000 and $400,000 for materials, she said.https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/dayton-rallies-against-kkk-this-ugly-chapter-over-but-work-done/m2q3WMtQe5ZPxlYCEL3W1M/
Maybe I’m being somewhat innocent here, but between the milquetoast response from city officials (both via their “stay away” message and being one upped by a community college in pushing back against racists) and the way the police were not just there to protect the citizens of Dayton (like, um, me), to say I’m disappointed in city officials is to put … mildly.
But the city itself? The people who live here?
We were fucking amazing.
Let’s make it the start of something awesome – whether the city officials are with us or not.