The Anaheim police department have appealed to the public for help catching a man wanted for assault over stabbings which occurred during a brawl between six Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and around 30 counter-protests on Saturday.
According to police, 20 to 30 protesters were waiting for a planned Klan rally to take place. When six KKK members, reportedly identified because of the Confederate Flag patches on their shirts, arrived in an SUV, the crowd descended on them.
In the proceeding melee, two people were “stomped on the ground,” and three stabbed, one of whom was hospitalized and in critical condition, police said. At one point, someone was stabbed with the end of a flagpole.
Twelve people were arrested, including five KKK members, but according to police the latter five were released after video evidence showed that they were acting in self-defense.
“The totality of the evidence, including videos, still pictures and interviews, paints a pretty clear picture as to who the aggressors were,” Anaheim police Sgt Daron Wyatt told the Los Angeles Times . “It does appear to be self-defense and defense of another.”
Much of the brawl was caught on video.
Anaheim police chief Raul Quezada said: “Even if the vast majority of our community disagrees with a particular group who visits our city we cannot stop them from lawfully gathering to express their opinions.”
“Violence is not acceptable, and we will arrest anybody who assaults another person or commits any other crime in our city,” he continued.
Investigators are continuing to review evidence, and are asking anyone who might have captured more video or photos of the brawl to come forward.
“We will always honor free speech in Anaheim, but we vehemently reject hate and violent confrontation,” Anaheim mayor Tom Tait said in a statement. “Anaheim is proud to draw strength in its diversity, tolerance and kindness, and Saturday’s events run counter to that.”
“I want to thank the Anaheim Police Department for the critical role they played to protect lives and quickly restore peace,” he continued.
Four of those arrested have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and are being held on $25,000 bonds; the remaining three have been charged with “elder abuse,” a specific California statute covering crimes against the elderly, and are being held on $50,000 bonds.
On Sunday, more than a dozen people were outside the jail demanding the release of the protesters, reported the Times .