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Rally planned in opposition to 'white power' graffiti at Findlay's Riverside Park

  • Findlay-Racist-Graffiti

    Crews worked during the day Monday to remove racist graffiti from Riverside Park in Findlay. A rally to protest white supremacy is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday.

    ALLISON BAER

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    Participants hold up signs and join in a chant during an anti-hate rally at Centennial Mall at the University of Toledo last Sunday.

    The Blade
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FINDLAY — Activists plan to rally Sunday in Riverside Park, after vandals sprayed racist graffiti there over the weekend.

The Findlay Civil Rights Alliance will host the rally at 4 p.m. to protest white supremacy, organizer Katie Finneran said. The unknown vandals painted swastikas or “white power” in about a half-dozen places, either late Saturday or early Sunday, Findlay Parks and Recreation Superintendent Matt Stoffel said. Crews spent much of Monday cleaning the pool and bathhouse.

Findlay-Racist-Graffiti

Crews worked during the day Monday to remove racist graffiti from Riverside Park in Findlay. A rally to protest white supremacy is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday.

ALLISON BAER Enlarge

There are currently no cameras at the park, located at 231 McManness Ave., and the closure of a nearby bridge means traffic in the area is minimal right now.

Ms. Finneran said she believes it’s important to organize liberal groups in opposition to white supremacists groups. The alliance formed the day after the presidential election, and Ms. Finneran said rallies have at times faced bigoted reactions.

“I think in Findlay we have had particular problems with white supremacy,” Ms. Finneran said. “Our first anti-Trump march the day after he got elected, we had people in our hometown drive by us and scream ‘white power,’” Ms. Finneran said.

Ms. Finneran added Findlay-area residents who identify as right-wing “Proud Boys” have attended previous alliance rallies and stood in the middle of the crowd in an attempt to intimidate protesters. A post on officialproudboys.com says “all that is required to become a Proud Boy is that a man declare he is ‘a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologize for creating the modern world.’”

Ms. Finneran said it didn’t matter if the vandals who hit the park were teens who painted the graffiti as a prank, or if they were sincerely expressing white supremacist views, as those who have that ideology see such public messages and are emboldened by them.

“Regardless of how the fire gets started, the smoke signal is out,” she said.

Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, in an Aug. 12 Facebook post, said, “Hatred has no place in a civil and free society. The Findlay community stands with Mayor Mike Signer and Charlottesville.”

Similar rallies have taken place in Maumee and at University of Toledo in the wake of the recent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville Va., when a woman was killed after a car rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. James A. Fields, Jr., 20, of Toledo is accused of driving the vehicle.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at nrosenkrans@theblade.com, or 419-724-6086 or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.

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