A contingent of 50 Cincinnati Police Department officers will spend Saturday in Dayton at the scene of a planned Ku Klux Klan rally and nearby counterprotests, according to an email sent Friday from Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney to members of City Council.
“There is no reason to believe the events this weekend will be anything other than peaceful,” Duhaney wrote. “However, CPD officers will be on-hand to assist Dayton Police in a support/reserve capacity should their services be needed.”
Event organizers expect the Saturday afternoon rally in Courthouse Square to attract 20 demonstrators from the Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana, an offshoot of the notorious white supremacist group, and up to 1,000 counterprotesters from groups such as Black Lives Matter and the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Newsweek reported earlier in the day.
Dayton’s government sued the Honorable Sacred Knights in an effort to prevent the rally from happening at all, but instead reached an agreement that members of the group could gather as long as they did not wear paramilitary or tactical gear, bring assault rifles or carry bats or shields.
They will be allowed to carry legal sidearms. So will members of the counterprotest.
Apparently anxious about the possibility of violence similar to that which made Charlottesville, Virginia, into a sour national spotlight, police led de-escalation workshops for counterprotesters and discussed their security plans with members of the public in the weeks leading up to the rally. They also consulted with law enforcement agencies in Charlottesville itself, police Chief Richard Biehl told radio station WYSO.
“Local law enforcement has sent organizations in the Dayton community a strong recommendation to not attempt a counter-protest at the actual location of the rally,” Duhaney wrote in his email to Cincinnati City Council. “However, several peaceful alternative events are planned by Dayton-area human/civil rights organizations. The groups have been working in close coordination with local law enforcement to develop a strategy that allows concerned community members a space to gather without being in close proximity to the rally.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley tried a different tack Thursday: Encouraging the whole community, including would-be counterprotesters, to ignore the event and starve the Sacred Knights of attention.
“This hate group that is coming in from outside our community want to incite problems in our community and we want to stop that from happening,” she told a local news station. “We really don't want people to go downtown, because that's what this hate group wants and we don't want to give this hate group what they want.”