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Sen. Sherrod Brown Presses For Funds To Help Dayton Recoup Klan Rally Spending

Jerry Kenney
Police on horseback line up in front of the Schuster Center ahead of KKK-afiliated rally on Dayton 's Courthouse Square

United States Sen. Sherrod Brown is requesting federal funds to help Dayton recover some of the city's costs associated with security for the May 25 Klan rally. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, Brown wrote the city spent more than $650,000 to ensure the safety and security of people and property during, "the potentially volatile event.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says that while the city did not ask Brown to make the request, she's thankful for the help.

“We were very, very supportive of it and are super grateful that the senator is taking an interest in this work because it affects us," she says. "To get money back from what we were doing to protect the First Amendment while keeping our people safe is very expensive in this day and age, and so I think this is an issue for a lot of cities.”

Credit Jerry Kenney

Whaley says the city spent around $400,000 related to the KKK rally on capital improvements or equipment upgrades for the Dayton Police Department, and additional camera upgrades.

The city spent around $250,000 on personnel, an expense the mayor says was needed because of Ohio's open-carry gun laws.

In an interview with WYSO, Whaley also reiterated what the city stated after the rally, saying the money the city spent related to May 25 was not only about the nine KKK-associated people rallying on Courthouse Square, but also for providing safety for residents who showed up to push back against their message with counterprotest.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's letter to the Department of Justice

Dear Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Dummermuth:

Last month, an organization reportedly affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) held a rally in the city of Dayton, Ohio. In preparation for the rally, Dayton city government developed and implemented a plan to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and property during the potentially volatile event. City leaders responsibly strategized to minimize risk and costs by partnering with police departments from across the state to ensure the presence of enough well-trained officers, and convinced many local businesses in the area to close during the time of the rally. Fortunately, the city’s planning and foresight resulted in no injuries, loss of life, or property damage associated with the rally. However, the city’s efforts to maintain order did not come without a significant cost, as the city spent over $650,000 of its already limited resources to protect the people of Dayton.

Nearly two years ago, the nation watched in horror as the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, unfolded. That day served as a stark reminder of the type of hate that still exists in this nation and the type of violence and unrest that KKK-affiliated and other white supremacist rallies can bring to a town. The KKK has a long, sad, pathetic, and well-documented history of violence in this nation.  Violence and terror is baked into its very DNA. Given that history and what we saw in Charlottesville, the security precautions taken by Dayton city officials were both reasonable and necessary to protect citizens, law enforcement officers, and demonstrators.

Dayton is an open and welcoming community. KKK rallies, and other similar high-risk events, are an aberration, and is not something the city budgets for. Implementing a security plan for this event required the city to pay overtime to its personnel and bring in law enforcement personnel from other cities.  These unexpected costs required the city to reallocate funds, which impacts the city’s capacity to provide essential other services. I therefore request that the Department of Justice work with my office and Dayton city officials to determine what funding your department can provide to help mitigate unexpected security costs incurred in preparing for this event.

What happened in Charlottesville, could happen anywhere, and I am thankful that due to our brave law enforcement officers and the advance preparation by city officials, it did not happen in Dayton last weekend. It is my hope that DOJ can work with my office and the city of Dayton to provide guidance on any available assistance to help the city offset at least some of the costs incurred in maintaining law and order.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact myself or my staffer, Shomari Figures (202-224-2315).

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.