A Ku Klux Klan leader who was injured when his small group of demonstrators brawled with counter-protesters in a Southern California park this weekend said Monday that he called police beforehand asking for security and was told, "We don't do that."
Will Quigg said in an interview with The Associated Press that he contacted the Anaheim Police Department but that the agency denied his requests for a police presence. The KKK then told officers that the group would hire an outside security company.
"They said, 'No, you can't do that either,'" Quigg said.
The Police Department is facing scrutiny for its response after three people were stabbed and several others were injured in the melee Saturday involving several dozen people and spanning a city block. Investigators determined that Klan members acted in self-defense after the counter-protesters attacked.
The department notified the public that the KKK planned to hold a protest at a park about 3 miles from Disneyland, but at least one witness said he saw no uniformed officers when the attack began.
Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said officers were present, but he has declined to say how many. He acknowledged that Quigg had contacted the department but believed that the group leader was asking for police to act as personal security guards.
"He was told how to contract for officers to do that, but did not want to spend the money," Wyatt said Monday.
Eugene O'Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the department's response about contracting officers is as if the KKK rally was the same as "an Oktoberfest or a New Year's Day event."
"It's their way of saying, 'We have no reason to believe there will be any trouble beyond the trouble you get at a rock concert," he said.
"Clearly, the police department has an obligation for public safety that goes beyond contracting individual officers out for events," O'Donnell added.
The department said a plan was in place and officers at the protest quickly called for backup when the violence broke out.
Wyatt told KPCC the police department notified the public the Klan would be meeting in Anaheim's Pearson Park, about 3 miles from Disneyland, and staffed officers nearby.
"Regardless what the message is, you should have the ability to not be fear of reprisal or physical violence. And, if they are attacked, they do have the right - under the law - to self defense," Wyatt told KPCC.
Wyatt told KPCC officers responded immediately when violence broke out and six backup units arrived two minutes later.
Wyatt did not believe their bulletin about the Klan's meeting attracted counter protestors.
"Officers rendered medical aid to those who were injured and arrested all but one of the suspects," the agency said in a statement.
Five KKK members arrested after the brawl later were released because evidence showed they acted in self-defense, police said. Seven people still in custody were seen beating, stomping and attacking the Klansmen with wooden posts, Wyatt said.
The clash erupted after six Klan members arrived at a park for an anti-immigration rally, and a group of 10 to 20 counter-protesters who had "the intent of perpetrating violence" started the attack, investigators said.
Police said the Klansmen stabbed three counter-protesters.
"Regardless of an individual or groups' beliefs or ideologies, they are entitled to live without the fear of physical violence and have the right, under the law, to defend themselves when attacked," a police statement said.
Quigg said he was thrown to the ground, hit with a pipe, stomped and struck with two-by-fours. He said his right hand was fractured and his spleen and a rib bruised. He said the left side of his chest is "black and blue and swollen up to the size of a softball."
Quigg said he did not stab anyone.
"What was done was done to protect our lives," he said. "Our lives were in jeopardy."
This story has been updated.