A Klan rally in California on Saturday quickly turned violent, resulting in the stabbing and beating of at least four KKK members who had gathered at Pearson Park in Anaheim, about one mile north of Disneyland. The hate group said they were there to conduct peaceful demonstrations against “illegal immigration and Muslims.” A group of 50 protestors, who outnumbered the Klansmen by at least a three-to-one margin, allegedly beat, stomped and stabbed the Klan members.
Reports Reuters news service on Feb. 28: “Four people were stabbed, and one of them critically wounded on Saturday in a scuffle between members of the Ku Klux Klan and counter-protesters. Thirteen people were arrested following the melee, including one Klan member who is accused of stabbing a counter-protester with a flagpole.”
Five of the six KKK members arrested have since been released from jail, as witnesses and evidence corroborated their stories that they were only acting in self-defense. Seven Klan protesters remain jailed today.
According to witnesses, after the Klan members and anti-KKK protestors were at the park for about an hour, an SUV rolled up and more Klan members, dressed in black, sporting Confederate flag patches and carrying “White Lives Matter” signs arrived and were engaged by the counter-protestors straight-away.
“As soon as they got out of their vehicle, immediately they were attacked by counter-protesters and this caused a melee down the block,” said Anaheim Police Sergeant Daron Wyatt. Over 50 individuals converged on the Klan members, chucking rocks, sticks and anything else they could get their hands on.
“Three people were stabbed by the fire hydrant,” said witness Darren Simpson, 49. “These Klan guys were fighting for their lives.” The majority of the Klan members got into their vehicles and sped off, but a small group was left behind to face the mob violence.
Dion Garcia, 37, said the actions of the counter-protestors were worse than the KKK members. “It was crazy,” Garcia said. “A lot of us were trying to break it up. This was not necessary, they should’ve just let the Klan protest. This is America, we have free speech.”
In a statement, the Anaheim Police Department commented on why the five Klan members were released.
“Those images offer clear evidence of the events as they unfolded,” the police said. “As a result, five of the 12 people who were originally arrested have been released as the images and statements corroborate witness statements that they were acting in self-defense. Even still, the case will be presented to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for review and it will make the final determination regarding whether criminal charges will be filed.”
“Regardless of an individual or groups’ beliefs or ideologies, they are entitled to live without the fear of physical violence and have the right, under the law, to defend themselves when attacked,” the police said.
“(The counter-protesters) were so angry, they would have torn these folks limb from limb,” commented Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. Levin was at the rally to observe for research purposes. “I was afraid for their lives.”