A long time ago, the name Klu Klux Klan instilled fear and panic in many people. Today, not as prominent as before, the Klan has begun to lose its hold.
Recently, a KKK rally took place at Pearson Park in Anaheim. The rally’s goal was to promote what is most important to the KKK, that white lives matter. Just three miles away from Disneyland, the rally was supposed to start around 1:30 p.m. However, by 11 am, about 30 protesters rallied against the Klan. Most of the protesters emerged from an apartment building across the street from the meeting site at Pearson Park. Tensions were high as the two groups confronted one another.
An hour later, after this confrontation occurred, men wearing all black and confederate flags showed up on the edge of the park in an SUV. These men appeared to be reinforcements for the rallying KKK members at the park. The protesters then broke the standoff between the rallying KKK members by swarming around the uniformed men and their car. Shortly after, fighting broke out. The fighting resulted in the stabbing of three protesters as well as two KKK members being trampled by the protesters. After several hours of being tended in the hospital, the victims were in stable condition.
The situation raised the question: “Where were the police in this incident?” Concern for the lack of police presence was the mind of many. The Los Angeles Times stated, “Many people at the park demanded to know why Anaheim police did not have a larger presence before the violence broke out.”
Out of the chaos, many arrests were made by the few police officers present. Six Klan members, five men and one woman, were arrested. Seven protesters, six men and one woman, were also arrested. Klan members were originally arrested in connections with the stabbing. The protesters were arrested on charges related to physical assault on Klan members. The KKK members were released from jail after multiple videos showed that the Klan members acted in self-defense. The protesters who were arrested remain in jail on charges of physical assault. Many people are currently demanding their release.
Anaheim police chief Raul Quezada firmly stated, “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.”
One man was being sought by police. A protester, who is described as “likely to[have] caused great bodily injury” based upon the videos capturing the fight, has yet to be found and arrested. Police are currently encouraging people to call in tips or identify where he is located.
The Klu Klux Klan is not new to the city of Anaheim. Once, Klansmen were dominant. Politically, they held four of five City Council seats in Anaheim in 1924. At their height of power, nearly 300 Klansmen lived in Anaheim. During the 1920’s, the Klan hosted a rally much like the one at Pearson Park, but that time nearly 20,000 people attended the rally. As time went on, the Klan’s presence in Southern California has decreased dramatically over the years.
The Blaze said, “Nationwide, the number of active KKK groups increased to 190 in 2015 after falling in 2013 and 2014 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. Nevertheless, KKK activity nationwide has continued to decrease dramatically in recent decades, the center noted, which estimated that the KKK group currently has between 5,000 and 8,000 members across the country, according to the LA Times.”
When asked how she felt about the KKK, Erica Pamperin, senior, said, “They are groups of people who need to be understanding and compassionate towards every race.”
Concerning the rally and its unintentional outcome, Pamperin said, “In order to prevent similar occurrences such as this from happening, I believe that we should inform people about these rallies and spread the word so people will be aware of them. This could make people less surprised and shocked that these rallies still happen today.”
“The KKK are known for being violent, so no I am not surprised about this outcome. They had to have been aware and at least a little conscientious that the possibility of violence could emerge from their rallies,” said sophomore Charlene Morentin.
“The KKK were a bunch of racist, ignorant people. They were at the height of their power throughout the 1920’s-1960’s. I haven’t heard of them in a while so, I’m guessing, that they aren’t as popular as they were before,” said junior Cori Harrison.