COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – It is 2017 and people in Ohio are living in fear of hate groups.
Anita Gray is the Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League working out of the Ohio, Kentucky, Allegheny regional office.
She was on vacation out of the country when everything happened in Charlottesville, VA two weeks ago but she saw the images.
It wasn’t until she returned to the states that she heard the sound that went with some of those images; it is the chanting that is haunting her now.
“That is the one soundbyte that keeps replaying in my mind,” said Gray referring to the chant “Jews will not replace us.”
“It’s what I hear before I go to bed,” said Gray. “And that’s what I hear in my head when I get up in the morning.”
Gray was one of several people gathered for a round table discussion about keeping Ohio communities safe from domestic terrorism, specifically hate groups.
The round table was convened and moderated by U.S. Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown.
“We know that Ohio has at least 35 hate groups that are known and identified,” said Brown.
One of his biggest concerns is law enforcements ability to keep track of these hate groups and their members if necessary.
Brown recalled a conversation he had with an Ohio Sheriff recently.
“He called the FBI about a guy that he had arrested for something else, and found in his house all kind of Nazi material and guns,” said Brown. “And he called the FBI, and the FBI said, ‘yeah, we knew about him,’ and he said, ‘well he’s in my county, why didn’t i know about him?’”
A representative from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was also in attendance.
He explained to those in attendance how his office works with local law enforcement to track down people who commit crimes, and how they can lead them back to a hate group.
Unlike the story shared by Senator Brown, it seems the ATF has a much closer working relationship than the FBI on these matters.
Representatives from religious organizations were also present, and the conversation shifted to how Ohioans can push back against hate groups.
In the end, it sounded like there was consensus that the key to eliminating hate is to educate children by focusing on broadening their cultural experience and understanding.
Members of the group committed to continue the conversation moving forward and to reach out to Youth Leaders at churches, synagogues, and mosques to encourage young people to make a stand against hate.
Meanwhile, the older generation familiar with organizing and protesting during the fight for civil rights, set its sights on college age people; with the understanding that they had to reach those individuals through the technology they use now.
They also hypothesized that today’s youth do not value the same processes the generations that came before them did, such as rallies, and that the evolution of protesting is unavoidable.