DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As Dayton police prepare for a hate rally on Saturday, community leaders are hosting unity celebrations at several local parks.
City leaders are encouraging the public to avoid the downtown area, or instead, consider attending a community event that celebrates the city’s diversity.
Charles Johnson lives near Oak and Ivy Park in Dayton. That’s where the Love Fest Dayton’s celebration is happening between 1 pm and 5 pm.
“They contacted all the neighbors to see if they had any problem with it,” he said.
Johnson says not only was he okay with the demonstration, he’s allowing the celebration to use some of his property.
“I’ve been in Dayton since 1971. I love the city; I love the mayor. I love what we do. We are a progressive city. This is part of it. I do not agree, obviously, with the KKK,” Johnson said.
Love Fest will feature food trucks, music and other forms of entertainment.
That’s just one celebration of diversity taking place around the city.
The NAACP is hosting an event, An Afternoon of Love, Unity, Peace & Diversity, at McIntosh Park on Edwin C Moses Blvd. and W. Riverview Ave.
That block-party style event will run from 1 pm to 3 pm on Saturday.
There will also be a Meditation Workshop and discussion at McKinley United Methodist Church, located at 196 Hawthorn Street, from 1:30 pm to 3 pm.
The organizers for Love Fest say people will have a choice Saturday. They only hope it is a peaceful one.
“With what’s happening downtown, they feel like it’s something they need to address. I totally get that,” says Carmen Kirkpatrick. “Just come out to the positive events instead and really focus on that fact that we have more love, positivity and unity and diversity in Dayton then what is happening with this small group of individuals coming.”
The second annual Community United Peace Rally is also taking place at McIntosh Park between 12 pm and 8 pm on Saturday. That event is described as a community peace rally and balloon release for families who have lost a loved one to gun violence and drug overdoses.
Finally, on Sunday, the Dayton community is invited to gather at Courthouse Square from 2 pm until 4 pm for a symbolic cleansing. Some officials, including Rep. Mike Turner, are encouraging people to come down and “wash away the hate.”