Sat | Aug 19, 2017

KKK rally ends in violence

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Counter-protesters scuffle with a Ku Klux Klansman after members of the KKK tried to start a ‘White Lives Matter’ rally at Pearson Park in Anaheim on Saturday. The event quickly escalated into violence and at least two people had to be treated at the scene for stab wounds.

LOS ANGELES (AP):

Dozens of protesters who heard about a planned Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally were waiting by a Southern California park when six Klansmen pulled up in a black SUV and took out signs reading "White Lives Matter". The KKK members were dressed in black shirts decorated with the Klan cross and Confederate flag patches.

The protesters immediately moved in, surrounding the Klansmen. Someone smashed the SUV's window, and then mayhem ensued.

Witness video captured the brawl just after noon on Saturday in an Anaheim park about three miles from Disneyland. Several protesters could be seen kicking a KKK member. One Klansman with an American flag used the pole's tip to stab a man.

"I got stabbed," the man screamed, lifting his T-shirt to show a wound to his stomach. A fire hydrant where the man briefly sat was covered in blood.

By the time order was restored, three people had been stabbed, one critically. Five Klansmen were booked for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon, and seven of the approximately 30 counter-protesters were arrested on suspicion of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

"I thought they were going to stomp these Klansmen to death," said Brian Levin, who directs California State University, San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. Levin, who was monitoring the protest, said he tried to intervene when "all hell broke loose", using his body to get between counter-protesters and Klansmen until officers were able to reach the scene.

Levin said that he saw no uniformed officers when the mÍlÈe started. Sgt. Daron Wyatt says that the police were definitely there and were engaged with people at one end of the fight and called additional resources to deploy to the other end. He says that the event stretched along an entire city block.

Police Chief Raul Quezada said that his officers were able to respond quickly enough to arrest all but one of the main participants, with the exception of one counter-protester who was still at large yesterday. Four of the arrestees were released after a review of video evidence, he said yesterday in a statement from the city.

"We will always honour free speech in Anaheim, but we vehemently reject hate and violent confrontation," Mayor Tom Tait said, adding, "Anaheim is proud to draw strength in its diversity, tolerance, and kindness, and Saturday's events run counter to that."

A day earlier, Anaheim police had notified the public about the planned protest at Pearson Park and said that they would be monitoring the situation. The department also noted that the KKK, like any other group, has a First Amendment right to assemble and demonstrate in a public park.