Five people were injured at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Southern California on Saturday when protesters attacked members of the white supremacist group, the police said, unleashing chaos on a popular park and leaving three people with stab wounds.
Clashes broke out as soon as members of the Klan arrived at Pearson Park in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, said Sgt. Daron Wyatt, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department. He said the group had planned to stage an anti-immigration rally with the theme “white lives matter.”
“Immediately as the K.K.K. guys got out of their vehicle they were attacked by the counter-protesters,” he said. “That soon developed into several different fights between the two groups that were spread along the length of a city block.”
A group of about 30 anti-Klan protesters spent part of the morning waiting at the park and were preparing to leave when six Klan supporters arrived, dressed in black and wearing Confederate battle flag patches sewn on their clothes, said Sergeant Wyatt.
Dr. Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said he attended the rally to conduct research. But when the Klansmen arrived shortly after noon, he said, “All hell broke loose.”
“There was a period of time that it was just a mob and these Klansmen and me on the block,” said Professor Levin, who tried to separate the two sides.
He said he saw a protester smash a window and the windshield out of the Klansmen’s S.U.V. while another stood nearby with a metal pipe.
“The crowd was jostling and yelling and cursing,” he said.
“A substantial minority of this crowd were out for blood.”
Sergeant Wyatt said Klansmen stabbed three protesters, including one who was stabbed with “the decorative end of a flagpole” and rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition. The banner attached to the pole may have been a Confederate battle flag, he said.
A police officer found a knife-wielding member of the Klan standing over a bleeding protester who he claimed to have stabbed in self-defense, Sergeant Wyatt said.
Another stabbing victim was found in a car on the east side of the park.
Six people who attended the rally to support the Klan were arrested in connection with the stabbings, the police said. Seven people were arrested and accused of stomping on Klan members they had knocked to the ground, including three people who were detained as they attempted to flee from police officers.
Sergeant Wyatt said the police were aware that Klan members were planning to rally in the park on Saturday and had officers present to monitor the situation. He said that law enforcement did not anticipate that the opponents of the Klan would resort to violence.
“The K.K.K., as reprehensible as it may be, is protected by the First Amendment,” he said. “They have a right under the Constitution to say what they want to say.”
A video shared on social media after the brawl showed a man lying on the pavement being treated by emergency medical workers as he clutched his abdomen.
Nearby, a black-clad man with a Confederate flag sewn onto his shirt said they had tried to stage a rally to show that white people were “just different” from other races.
One of the Klansmen at the rally was Will Quigg, the Klan leader for the Western United States, according to Professor Levin. He said he saw Mr. Quigg get beaten up by a group of counterprotesters and intervened to try to help him.
“The last thing I said to Mr. Quigg was, ‘How does it feel to have your life possibly saved by a Jewish guy?’” Professor Levin said. “He just said, ‘Thank you.’ I could see the terror in his face.”
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