The Ku Klux Klan had a rally scheduled this afternoon at 1:30 p.m at Pearson Park, in Anaheim, California. Around 11:30 a.m. a group of counter-protesters gathered at the park to confront the KKK members. About an hour later, the Klan members arrived in a black SUV. The men emerged from the vehicle and began unloading confederate flags and signs.
An onlooker, Kobe Sato, 18, said that the group of waiting protesters swarmed the KKK members upon their immediate arrival. The counter-protesters rushed the members with sticks and shouts of their disapproval. According to the L.A. Times, several protesters were seen fighting with a man who wore a “Grand Dragon” T-shirt. Brian Levin, director of CSU San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, was standing next to the man in the “Grand Dragon” shirt when the crowd confronted the KKK members with weapons. He stepped in and pushed the leader of the present KKK members out the way of the violence.
“How do you feel that a Jewish man just saved your life?” Levin asked the leader. The man replied with a thank you.
In the midst of the arguing, three men were stabbed. One unnamed KKK member was arrested, saying he stabbed a man in self-defense. He was arrested along with 12 others. Onlookers said he stabbed the protester with the edge of his flagpole. Levin told reporters that their were no police on the scene at the onset of the confrontation.
More people began to gather at the park, questioning the Anaheim Police Department who had little-to-no presence at the rally. The people wanted to know why they didn’t have a presence at the rally knowing the KKK history with the city. According to OC Weekly tweets went out at the beginning of the week saying they would rally followed by “White Lives Matter Too” found in Pearson Park.
The city members did not take them serious until police officers confirmed their time and gathering at the park on Friday, February 26. Counter-protesters tweeted they would attend too as this wasn’t their first run in with the KKK, who have strong roots in Southern California. Until the 1924 ouster, four-out-of-five councilmen were Klan members and nearly 300 members lived in Anaheim.
The Klan’s members patrolled the streets in masks and robes, with nearly 20,000 people gathering for a rally. However, they were pushed out of Southern California by an anti-Klan group, USA Club –“Union, Service, Americanism” — who came in and put their backing toward non-Klansman candidates. This was a major blow for the KKK, who is rumored to have founded Orange County.
Recent numbers show that only 190 members are active in Anaheim today and in recent decades, Southern Poverty Law Center estimates the group has between 5,000 to 8,000 KKK members across the country.
The reason behind the rally is not yet known, but many Anaheim KKK members are upset saying the town treats them like a joke. In 2003, an eight-foot cross was burned outside the residence of a black man in Anaheim Hills. The FBI investigated the case as a hate crime but the police could not specifically link that case to the KKK. Recently, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2015, in Santa Ana, about eight miles south of Anaheim, members awoke to Klansman propaganda in their driveway. At least 100 residents of Whitter and Fullerton received packets containing KKK fliers and candy.
Residents told WPMI-TV they didn’t understand why the neighborhood was targeted.
[Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/AP Images]