US & Canada

California Ku Klux Klan rally ends with stabbings and arrests

This photo provided by OC Weekly shows counter-protesters scuffling with a KKK member as he stabs an attacking protester, center, as members of the KKK try to start an anti-immigration rally at Pearson Park in Anaheim on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 Image copyright OC Weekly via AP
Image caption Fights broke out when the KKK arrived in a black SUV

At least three people have been stabbed in a brawl between Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and counter-protesters in Anaheim, California, US police said.

Thirteen people, both KKK members and rival demonstrators, were arrested.

The violence broke out when several Klan members arrived at a local park for a rally and were attacked by counter-protesters, according to police.

One of the stabbing victims is said to be in a serious condition.

A Klansman who allegedly stabbed one of the demonstrators with a flag pole is among those detained.

The flag pole, topped by an American eagle ornament, is believed to have been used to wound three demonstrators.

The counter-protests had been underway for hours before around six KKK members arrived, witnesses reported.

The Klan members held signs that read "White Lives Do Matter" and carried Confederate flags.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters fought with Klansmen and used wooden planks
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Earlier, protesters had held a rally demanding an end to racism
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Several people have been detained, both KKK members and protesters

As the Klansmen unpacked the signs they were said to have been surrounded by demonstrators with wooden planks.

Some were seen kicking a man whose shirt read "Grand Dragon", the name of a high-ranking KKK member, reports said.

"These Klan guys were fighting for their lives" witness Darren Simpson told Reuters.

Media captionPolice Sergeant Daron Wyatt: "One person was stabbed multiple times by one of the Klansmen it is believed with a flag pole"

"A lot of us were trying to break it up," witness Dion Garcia, told Reuters.

"This was not necessary, they should've just let the Klan protest. This is America, we have free speech."

Another witness, Brian Levin, said after helping a Klansman away from the crowd, he asked him: "How does it feel that your life was just saved by a Jewish man?"

"Thank you," the man replied, according to Mr Levin.

"All hell broke loose" Mr Levin said. "I thought they were going to stomp these Klansmen to death".

The Ku Klux Klan is one of the oldest and most infamous hate groups in the US, and has targeted African Americans, Jews, Catholics and immigrants, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

The group has a long history in Anaheim, with KKK members elected to the city council in the 1920s.

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