Q&A: Why KKK was at California park, how it turned violent
LOS ANGELES – A melee between KKK members and counter-protesters at a California park has gotten worldwide attention. Three people were stabbed, several others were injured, and seven people face charges of assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.
Here are some questions and answers about the brawl:
Six Ku Klux Klan members arrived at Anaheim's Pearson Park to hold an anti-immigration rally and were immediately confronted by an angry mob of about 10 to 20 people, according to police. Authorities say a Klan member stabbed three people in self-defense, one critically. Twelve people were initially detained. All Klan members were later released.
WHY WAS THE KKK THERE AND WHO WERE THE COUNTER-PROTESTERS?
Chris Barker, who identified himself as the imperial wizard of the Loyal White Knights, told The Associated Press his members were there to hold a peaceful anti-immigration demonstration. Klan members arrived with signs reading "White Lives Matter." The counter-protesters appear to have been members of various groups. Police say only one was from Anaheim.
DID POLICE KNOW THE PROTEST WAS PLANNED?
Police were aware of the KKK protest and issued a notice to the public Friday stating they would be "monitoring the situation for any violations of law." According to police, officers were at the park when the violence broke out and immediately called for backup when the melee began. Authorities say additional officers arrived in less than two minutes. However, Brian Levin, director of California State University, San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, says he saw no uniformed officers at the park before the brawl started.
HOW DID IT TURN VIOLENT?
Anti-Klan protesters waited for KKK members to arrive and attacked them with pipes and two-by-fours shortly after they arrived, according to a witness and police. When one Klansman stabbed a counter-protester, a vicious brawl erupted spanning an entire city block.
WHY WERE THE KKK MEMBERS RELEASED?
Police said that five KKK members arrested after the brawl later were released because evidence showed they acted in self-defense. Seven people still in custody were seen beating, stomping and attacking the Klansmen with wooden posts, police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said. The district attorney's office has until Tuesday to decide whether to file charges against any of the KKK members, Wyatt added, but said it was "clear and convincing" that they were defending themselves.
Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this report.