Hoosiers Rally Against Hate in MadisonPosted on: September 2, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
By Jeff Turner
More than three hundred people showed up to protest a KKK gathering in Madison, Indiana Saturday September 1st. The protest took place outside of Jaycee Park, along the Ohio River, where the Honorable Sacred Knights, a chapter of the KKK, had gathered. Groups in attendance included the Southern Indiana Fairness Alliance, the American-Indian Movement of Indiana and Kentucky, Democratic Socialists of America, and others. Only thirteen people attended the actual KKK “Kookout” being held (a fourteenth from the crowd went to join them during the protest). The protest included a group of speakers who spoke to the assembled crowd of the need for tolerance and unity. About half the protestors however were focused on the thirteen Klansmen at the cookout/rally across from them, where protestors and the thirteen Klansmen exchanged verbal barbs and insults. The Klansmen and sympathizers at the “Kookout” however were separated from the protestors by barricades, fences, and the Indiana State Police. The event was largely peaceful however and no arrests were made.
“I just want to show my solidarity against a bunch of (white supremacists),” said Casey Reeves, one of the attendees. “(I’m) baffled that in 2018 this is still happening.” He expressed certain reservations about the tactics being employed by those at the protest, namely certain protestors affiliated with Antifa. “These folks giving them attention are giving them exactly what they want… There’s a difference between standing in solidarity and spitting venom at them, which gives them justification for their behavior. As soon as we get mad, we give them what they want,” he said.
A small minority of those in attendance actually showed up to see what the KKK had to say.
“I just wanted to hear what they had to say, both sides,” said Russell Campton, who was also at the protest, albeit standing away from the larger crowd of anti-Klan protestors. “I treat everyone equally… I’m just here seeing (if) what they’re putting on the computer is really what they want to do.” He went on to add “Everybody has the same problems.”
The white supremacists traded barbs with the protestors, giving them the finger, waving the confederate flag, as well as giving white power salutes and using certain racial epithets. Emotions ran high on both sides, though the white supremacists did not present any type of concrete “message.”
Other attendees had different reasons for attending the anti-Klan protest.
“(I want) to see if I can engage potential members wanting to join the KKK, to see if I can make inroads to undoing racism,” said Tony Davis, an activist from Indianapolis. When asked whether he thought such dialogue would actually make a difference, he said “I hope so, because we have all had a fragmented understanding of history… A lot of their struggles people of color have gone through and they were told lies to keep us divided.”
One individual who requested not to be named cited the “explosion” of hate groups since Barack Obama was elected President, and how under Trump hate has been normalized because people have ignored these particular hate groups up until now. She stated the importance of people engaging with them in order to combat the hatred they have embraced, a statement that was reinforced by many of those present.
“I think that one person at a time can make a difference over hate groups like the KKK,” said Jeff Becker, another attendee. “You’re never going to change people over there because the hate clouds their mindset. There’s always something to be gained at a gathering of positivity like this (in regards to the anti-Klan protest).”
Most interesting perhaps was the presence of a lone protestor standing away from the rest, who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat. He stated that his reason for attending the rally was to show his disdain for hate groups and racism while also displaying that not all Trump supporters are racists. He received some jeers and taunts from other protestors, including one who stated that he was “on the wrong side of the fence.” But other protestors attempted to engage with him in a civil manner, allowing him to share his own views while at the same time stating why they believed the message he was promoting wasn’t helping, namely since many cite the explosion of hate groups and normalization of racism as a direct result of Donald J. Trump.
Whether their arguments had any effect on this Trump supporter attempting to combat racism by attending an anti-Klan protest wearing a MAGA hat remains unknown, as well as what impact the anti-Klan protest will have on those who harbor similar beliefs to the Klan, or who are sympathetic to their beliefs. Nonetheless, the protestors managed to convey their message: “No Hate in Our State.”