City leaders presented one colorful idea at a community forum Wednesday night about how to respond to a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group’s planned May rally: encircle Courthouse Square with banners celebrating Dayton qualities they say are opposite those of the Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana.
“We are clearly concerned about folks showing up downtown to protest and add to the concern the already high threshold of safety issues we will be experiencing on Saturday, May 25,” City Manager Shelley Dickstein said.
“You don’t have to come down here and espouse your values about this hate, because we are taking care of that for you.”
Dickstein displayed a concept illustration showing large banners hanging behind the stage at the public square highlighting values such as inclusion, equality, diversity and tolerance. Below the stage are love and peace signs, shown over the stage is a large sign reading, “Hate is not a Dayton value.”
She said, “We want to make sure that whoever comes and stands on that stage to espouse their values, that overarching they are facing our values.”
More than 200 attended the forum at Grace United Methodist Church to discuss the community’s response to the rally.
The forum resulted in many other ideas, from ignoring the KKK group to countering the Honorable Sacred Knights with feet on the street opposite Courthouse Square at the same time.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said residents can resist the Klan group’s ideology by “showing how united and strong our community is because of our diversity.”
“What we want is to make sure the community stays safe and that the community is heard with as close to one unified voice about this issue.”
Dickstein said the banner project is moving forward and the city already has approval from Montgomery County, which owns Courthouse Square.