A Dayton coalition planning a counterprotest at an upcoming Ku Klux Klan-affiliated rally, scheduled for late May in Courthouse Square, gathered Saturday at a townhall meeting to outline their plans.
The A Better Dayton Coalition includes members of Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, and six other grassroots and faith-based community organizations, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the New Black Panther Party.
Dozens of people attended the meeting, held inside a church in Northwest Dayton.
Yolanda Simpson, head of Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, says she hopes the coalition's counterprotest will serve as an example for the rest of the country to follow.
“Right now we are in a crisis of morality and we're divided and there is just this hatred that seems to permeate our country," she says, "and I think that this is important because if we deal with our own backyards, if we deal with Dayton, maybe we can become the example for the rest of the country.”
The coalition recently began organizing Saturday's townhall after Montgomery County officials announced they had granted a May 25 rally permit to an Indiana-based group calling itself the Honorable Sacred Knights.
Montgomery County officials said in February the group initially listed fake names on its downtown Dayton permit request. The group later resubmitted the permit paperwork to include verifiable names, upon a request from the county.
County officials say they consulted with attorneys and met with several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, and granted the group's request to rally.
Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said in a statement the county is legally bound to allow the Honorable Sacred Knights to assemble on the square.
"We are legally obligated to provide access to public spaces where individuals can exercise their freedom of speech and right to assemble,” he said. “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.”
After the out-of-state KKK-affiliated group's permit was granted, the Dayton City Commission released a statement saying Dayton condemns, "all forms of racism, prejudice, bigotry, and hate. Dayton is a community that welcomes all people."
The next meeting of the coalition is planned for April 2 at the Dayton Deja Vu Reception Center at 6 p.m.
For more information about A Better Dayton Coalition's plans for a counterprotest, visit the Black Lives Matter Miami Valley Facebook page.