Nine people showed up to a white supremacist rally in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday — and they found themselves dramatically outnumbered by counterprotesters who flooded the city’s downtown in a show of “unity against hate.”
City officials said an estimated 500 to 600 people gathered to express their condemnation of the rally, organized by the Honorable Sacred Knights of Indiana, a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group, CBS News reported.
The counterprotesters, who included members of the local chapter of the NAACP, sang “Amazing Grace” and played tubas and the drums, according to WHIO-TV. They carried signs with messages about unity and love, and chanted anti-racist slogans.
The nine members of the Klan-affiliated group, all but one of whom was wearing masks, spoke little during the rally, according to WHIO-TV.
When they did attempt to speak, counterprotesters “worked to ensure no one in the crowd [could] hear them,” the outlet said.
Dayton officials said no arrests, injuries or clashes were reported during the day’s events.
“I am very glad that today’s events went off without incident and the hate group that tried to threatened our city is gone,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said in a statement.
The city said it spent about $650,000 on security for the rally.
Journalist Marcus DiPaola reported that several counterprotesters were seen openly carrying rifles, a practice legal under Ohio law.
Members of the white supremacist group may have also been armed. According to an earlier Associated Press report, the permit agreement struck between the group and the city of Dayton allowed them to carry certain firearms to the rally.
According to The New York Times noted, it was unclear why the KKK group, based in Madison, Indiana, chose to hold a rally some 120 miles away in Dayton. But Dayton, characterized by the newspaper as one of the country’s most racially segregated cities, is also, according to the Times, “something of a political bellwether” in Ohio, which is often a swing state in presidential elections.
In her Saturday statement, Whaley said she was grateful to the many people who attended the counterprotest for sharing “their views loudly, but without violence.”
She added that the event had shone “a light on the issues that continue to divide us and on all of the work we still have to do to make our community a place of opportunity for everyone.”
“Dayton is still too segregated, and too unequal. This is ... unacceptable, and something that we must keep focused on changing every day,” Whaley said.