Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Rose Russell

Toledo, don't give hate group an audience

YOUNG black people, let me be blunt: The march by hate groups in North Toledo today is aimed at you. Don't give them the time of day. Please.

If the hate groups can upset you enough to cause you to react and get arrested, or cause you to show an outburst of violence, then they will have accomplished their goal.

Don't give them that satisfaction, no matter how upset they might make you, and believe me, their words can make a minority pretty upset. You are not what they say you are, so stay home, do something else, or go to some worthwhile community function instead.

Go to the Zablocki Center at Lagrange Street and Central Avenue to have a good time. The Erase the Hate campaign and the Toledo Board of Community Relations hope to engage North Toledoans with a series of activities and pizza.

I dislike the idea of the hate-mongers demonstrating, but as a defender of the First Amendment, I uphold any nationalist group's right to demonstrate. But I don't have to watch or hear them try to instigate violence, even though they say that's not their intention.

The groups' assemblies don't benefit communities. And anyone who thinks they can attend to observe from a safe distance, don't fool yourself.

When the Ku Klux Klan bloviated at rallies in Bowling Green and Toledo in 1994, opposing organizations came to support reasonable Toledoans. Police controlled crowd tension at both rallies when people from those organizations responded by yelling back at the Klan as the KKK spewed hatred.

I believed I was far enough from the focus of all the attention during both rallies, which I covered for The Blade.

At the Bowling Green rally, when police controlled crowds, I suddenly found myself too close to a police-mounted horse that could have trampled me. At the Toledo rally I was where officers told observers to stay. When it got testy out in that hot June sun, Toledo police in riot gear shoved observers, and reporters, and it wasn't a gentle shove. Anybody, including me, could have been hurt.

Let's hope nobody is hurt today. Not accidentally. Not on purpose.

People of every race and all ages should know that the hate groups' putrid outbursts are intended to incite their audiences, and they are especially designed to prompt gang members to react.

Let me tell you up front, young people, what the group says can upset you, but don't let it. If hate groups have any skill, it's knowing how to stir up communities.

They have taken a dispute between a neighboring black woman and a white man and caused it to mushroom. At the march, police will stand between observers and the nationalists as the latter spew vitriol intended to provoke angry reactions.

Avoid the event. Your presence will not change the groups' minds. Telling them where they are wrong and urging them to move toward civility and harmony will not persuade them to change their minds, either.

Anyone, black or white, who embraces racial disharmony needs a soul change. Mere conversation or even shouting across a distance while the nationalists are showing off their ignorance will not convince them to abandon their small mindedness. Even if they had the capacity for an intellectual tango, their purpose is not to engage in healthy, even heated, debate.

Their demonstration is designed to upset someone enough for them to react, lash out, and get arrested. The groups want those they denounce to react badly.

They want the people who are the focus of their hate to be arrested and prove the hate-mongers' dim and erroneous view that minorities only and always respond with violence.

Please, Toledo. Don't let them go home happy today. Just let them go home.

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