ANAHEIM, California (Reuters) - At least three people were stabbed on Saturday (Feb 27) and one of them was critically wounded in a scuffle between members of the Ku Klux Klan and counter-protesters near a planned KKK rally in Anaheim, California, police said.
Four people were arrested following the melee, including one Klan member who is accused of the stabbing, said Anaheim Police Sergeant Daron Wyatt.
Three counter-protesters were taken into custody after stomping a KKK member on the ground, Wyatt said.
Wyatt said the altercation took place as soon as several Klan members arrived at the park in Anaheim, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, for a planned rally there.
"As soon as they got out of their vehicle, immediately they were attacked by counter-protesters and this caused a melee down the block," he said.
Wyatt said at least three counter-protesters and possibly a fourth were stabbed in the ensuing confrontation. He said the most seriously wounded of the victims was taken to a local hospital's trauma centre, where he was listed in critical condition.
The Klan, known for their white robes and peaked hoods often worn by its members, has a long history of violence toward African-Americans, Jews and other groups, according the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the United States.
Several witnesses said that a peaceful counter-protest had been under way for about three hours in the park a mile north of Disneyland when the Klansmen arrived in a black sport utility vehicle.
The SUV pulled up and three men got out and began to unload signs when the group of about 50 counter-protesters ran over, yelling and throwing sticks, witnesses said.
"Three people were stabbed by the fire hydrant," said Darren Simpson, 49. "These Klan guys were fighting for their lives."
The Klan members attempted to get back into the car as it sped off, leaving them behind, said Dion Garcia, 37.
The angry mob chased the Klansmen down the block, yelling"Get out of here! You're not welcome!" Garcia said.
"It was crazy," he said, adding: "A lot of us were trying to break it up. This was not necessary, they should've just let the Klan protest. This is America, we have free speech."