The Latest: Police defend response to violence at KKK rally

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2016 12:39 AM
The Latest: Police defend response to violence at KKK rally

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the stabbings at a Ku Klux Klan gathering in Southern California Saturday (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

Anaheim's police chief is defending his department's response to a violent clash between a small group of Ku Klux Klan members staging an anti-immigration rally and a larger gathering of counter-protests, resulting in three people stabbed and 12 arrested.

Chief Raul Quezada said in a statement Saturday that his department was aware of the planned KKK rally as well as the counter protest, and that a contingent of officers were assigned to the gathering at a city park and they were able to swiftly arrest all the suspects.

Quezada said his department prides itself in accommodating people's right to demonstrate and express their freedom of speech, but that unfortunately a handful of people committed to criminal behavior caused the violence.

He vowed to take a critical look at how his department handled the incident.

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7:45 p.m.

Police said a man who was stabbed and critically injured during a violent clash between Ku Klux Klan members and counter-protesters has been upgraded to stable condition.

He was one of three men who were stabbed Saturday by Anaheim's Pearson Park.

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4:36 p.m.

A university researcher who witnessed the violent attack between Ku Klux Klan members and counter-protesters says he saw no uniformed police at an Anaheim park 3 miles from Disneyland when the brawl began.

Brian Levin, director of California State University, San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, says KKK members were quickly attacked by counter-protesters after arriving at Pearson Park Saturday afternoon.

Levin says he feared the Klansmen would be stomped to death.

Anaheim police had notified the public about the planned KKK protest Friday and said they would be "monitoring the situation for any violations of law." The department also said that while the group's signs and fliers might be provocative, they are protected by the First Amendment.

Sgt. Daron Wyatt says police were present when violence erupted.

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3:13 p.m.

A Ku Klux Klan leader says his members were holding a peaceful anti-immigration demonstration when violence broke out.

Chris Barker, who identified himself as the "imperial wizard" of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, says his members were defending themselves.

He added, "If we're attacked we will attack back."

Police say three counter-protesters at the KKK rally were stabbed by Klan members. Six Klan members are in custody in connection with the stabbings.

Seven counter-protesters have also been detained. Authorities say they stomped on two Klan members.

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2:44 p.m.

Authorities say 13 people are in custody following a violent altercation that left three people stabbed at a Ku Klux Klan gathering in Southern California.

A spokesman with the Anaheim Police Department says six of those arrested are Klan supporters and seven counter-protesters.

All three people who were stabbed are believed to be counter-protesters. One person is in critical condition.

Sgt. Daron Wyatt says a Klan member was stomped on by counter-protesters during another altercation.

The KKK has a long history in Southern California, with Klansmen holding elected office in Anaheim in the 1920s.

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1:26 p.m.

Police say two people have been stabbed at a Ku Klux Klan gathering in Southern California.

Sgt. Daron Wyatt with the Anaheim Police Department tells The Associated Press two people who were part of a counter-protest at a KKK gathering Saturday afternoon in Anaheim were stabbed in separate incidents.

One person is in custody in one of the stabbings.

Wyatt says a Klan member was stomped on by counter-protesters during another altercation. Three people have been detained.

No information on any of victims' conditions was immediately available.

Authorities say the investigation is ongoing.