By BD of the M1 Michigan Collective
The klan demonstrated in Dayton on May 25th; there were nine of them. The anti-klan demonstration numbered 600 or more. And the police, hundreds of them, were out in force and armed to the teeth. The police guns, all the police guns, were aimed at the anti-klan demonstrators.
By agreement with the city of Dayton, the klan supporters were allowed to carry pistols but no long guns. Ohio is an open carry state, so many of the anti-klan protesters were armed with pistols and long guns. The police placed themselves between the handful of fascists and the hundreds of anti-fascists and anti-racists. The police faced the anti-fascists, in a perimeter with their backs to the klan and facing the anti-klan. At both ends of the anti-klan demonstration, police blocked the streets and faced the anti-klan forces. On the roofs of the tall buildings in the downtown area, police snipers aimed their guns at the anti-klan demonstrators.
The anti-klan forces included Black Lives Matter Miami Valley, the Black Panthers of Dayton, others in the Better Dayton Coalition, the Huey P. Newton Gun Club of Cincinnati, John Brown Gun Club and many individuals. Other groups participating included Democratic Socialists, other socialists, Solidarity and Defense Michigan, General Defense Committee Local 12 of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Burning River Anarchist Collective of Cleveland, some Anti Racist Action groups, some church groups, and others. But most of the demonstrators appeared to be members of the local community, Black and white, many young, but plenty of families and older folks, as well, and not appearing to be affiliated with any particular group.
Anti-klan demonstrators, in significant numbers, were armed. This included groups and individuals, Black and white. In an interview, one young Black man, who had a long gun, noted that as he and his group marched a few blocks to the demonstration, the police they passed had their hands on their guns and fingers on the triggers. There was tension in Dayton on May 25th.
The old chant, “the cops and the klan go hand in hand” is still true and was chanted, but it seems somehow outdated. This is beyond that. This is not just the cops protecting the fascists; this is the cops, several hundred of them, targeting the anti-fascist and anti-racist forces. With so many people armed, confrontations can turn to gunfire very quickly. This is part of the tension. Part of the stand off. Anti-racists, anti-fascists, revolutionaries and community members need to organize and participate in community self defense.
It is not any one group which can provide community self defense. It must be the community, the working class, which provides its own self defense. As revolutionaries and anarchists, we urge community self defense, help to organize it and participate in it. An important part of this work is to unite our forces, to unite our communities, to be able to work together in coalitions and united fronts, to have community organizations, anti-fascist organizations, unions, revolutionaries and others work together on matters of defense, on defending our communities.
May 25th in Dayton was a victory and a step forward for anti-klan, anti-fascist and anti-racist forces. Black Lives Matter Miami Valley helped to organize the Better Dayton Coalition which included several groups from Dayton communities. These groups decided to organize a demonstration to confront and oppose the klan on May 25th and to reach out to other groups and communities to join them. This was the key to the successful action on May 25th.
It was a broad coalition, a broad united front, which confronted the klan in Dayton. And it was police from Dayton, the county, the state, other cities and beyond who confronted us. The klan were far in the background. We have work to do in educating ourselves, in building coalitions, in preparing ourselves and in organizing. We need to understand that we are up against the fascists and the police and the state.
It’s important that we learn to work together. Black Lives Matter Miami Valley and the Better Dayton Coalition set the tone for the May 25th action. In Michigan, we organized with Solidarity and Defense and General Defense Committee Local 12 of Washtenaw County, Michigan. We had a contingent which included a few people from Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Detroit and with contact with folks from Toledo and Cleveland. Our contingent joined in the action in Dayton on May 25th.
We need regional coordination among anti-fascist and anti-racist forces in the midwest. We believe this action was a small but important step in building cooperation among our forces in Dayton, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Lansing, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and beyond. The need now is to coordinate, to reach out, to organize our forces. The need now is to break out of isolation and small group dynamics and elitism.