One person was almost killed and another four injured after protesters confronted a small Ku Klux Klan rally Saturday afternoon in public park in Anaheim, California. According to the Los Angeles Times, the fight began after a half-dozen Klan members arrived and exited their cars to hold a scheduled and publicized rally. Some 30 protesters had been waiting for them at the site, and quickly confronted the Klansmen. In the subsequent fight, three protesters were stabbed — including one who was critically wounded after being stuck with the decorative end of either a Confederate or American flag pole. In all, five people were injured and 13 arrested. The fight was captured on video by several bystanders and media members, and the Associated Press reports that five people were subsequently released after video of the violence was reviewed by authorities.
Here is a compilation of (graphic) footage taken during and after the fight:
According to CNN, an Anaheim police spokesman said that the flagpole stabbing victim was hospitalized in critical condition, while the other two stabbing victims were in stable condition. Two KKK members were injured, but only one was hospitalized and remains in stable condition.
The director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, Brian Levin, was there to observe the rally and told the Times that protesters had attacked the Klansmen with two-by-fours and other weapons. After that happened, some of the Klansmen sped off in a car, leaving the others behind. Levin told the AP he thought the protesters were going to “stomp” the Klansmen to death. He also said he saw no uniformed police present when the fight began, though authorities say there were contingents of officers assigned to both the rally and the protest, and witnesses report that police subsequently stormed the area following the altercation. (Beforehand, police had actually alerted the public about the rally themselves.)
The Klan members, who are reportedly part of the West Coast wing of a North Carolina-based KKK group, were not dressed in the Klan’s traditional white hooded gowns, but were wearing clothes with other white supremacist iconography. In photos taken at the scene, a Klan member can be seen holding a sign that reads: “White lives do matter” and “Say no to cultural genocide.” According to Levin, the group see themselves as a “Klan without robes,” modeled after former Grand Wizard David Duke, who has himself been in the news as of late. After Levin pushed the Anaheim group’s leader out of the way of attacking protesters, he says he asked him, “How do you feel that a Jewish guy just saved your life?” The Klansman apparently thanked him.
The AP notes that Anaheim has a long history of Klan activity, and that Klansmen once held elected office there in the 1920s, though the city is now majority Latino. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, there were some 190 active KKK groups, with between 5,000 to 8,000 members, operating in the U.S. last year.