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Ohio Congressman Urges Dayton To Not Counter-Protest Of KKK Rally

In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in a "white pride" rally in Rome, Ga.
John Bazemore
Associated Press
In this Saturday, April 23, 2016 photo, members of the Ku Klux Klan participate in a "white pride" rally in Rome, Ga.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) is advising Dayton officials not to hold any counter-protests when a KKK-affiliated group assembles on Courthouse Square on May 25.

The representative from Ohio's 10th District says he issued his request in a letter Wednesday sent to Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. At least one such protest has been announced by a coalition that includes seven grassroots and faith-based organizations, and city commissioners discussed their options at a public meeting Wednesday night.

In his letter to Whaley, Turner said during his first term as Dayton Mayor in the ‘90s, a dozen or so Klan members held a similar rally on the square. And, rather than holding a counterprotest, the city “held a larger ceremonial washing of the Square to reclaim the space and wash away the hate.”

Turner says the ceremony was the suggestion of then-NAACP Dayton president Jesse Gooding. He encourages the current administration to take the same path.

“While we should take every opportunity to unequivocally condemn these hate groups, I am sure you share my view that everyone should be discouraged from being anywhere near Courthouse Square on that day,” Turner wrote. “Our community should not have one eye see or one ear hear this outside group’s hateful message.”

The congressman cited safety concerns shared by both he and Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman. Turner mentions the August 2017 “Unite The Right” rally and counter-protest in Charlottesville, which ended with one woman being killed by a white nationalist who drove a car through a crowd of counter-protesters.

Dayton filed a lawsuit last week against the Honorable Sacred Knights, which officials describe as a paramilitary group. While announcing the suit last week, Whaley and city commissioners said the rally would pose a violation of Ohio’s constitution. That suit was filed in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

Last week, the mayor also said the city wanted to meet with any groups planning to counter-protest to decide on a unified front.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.