Five Ku Klux Klan members who were arrested during a rally in Anaheim have been released because video footage shows that they were acting in self defense as several people attacked the group.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a small group of Klan members held a rally at Pearson Park on Saturday, Feb. 27, where they intended to hold an anti-immigration protest. The rally was planned for 1:30 p.m. but by 11 a.m., several anti-Klan protesters had already shown up to confront the KKK members.
Around 12 p.m., several men dressed in black clothes displaying images of the Confederate flag arrived at the park. Fighting broke out almost immediately and Klan members were seen carrying a large American flag, using the end of the flagpole to fend off the counter-protesters.
Three non-Klan members were reportedly stabbed by the men and 13 counter-protesters in total were injured.
Five of the six men were arrested, according to the Chicago Tribune, but local police later released the men after it became clear that the counter-protesters had attacked the group first.
“Regardless of an individual or groups’ beliefs or ideologies,” said the Anaheim police department in a statement, “they are entitled to live without the fear of physical violence and have the right, under the law, to defend themselves when attacked.”
Anaheim has a historical connection with the KKK which made the incident notable: back in 1924, four out of five City Council seats were given to members of the Klan. Residents protested the election after the men’s affiliations with the KKK became known, and all four men were ousted from their positions.
It’s been almost a century since the incident and the climate of Anaheim has changed quite a bit; the demographics of the city have gone from 95% white to 53% Hispanic and 27% white.
Ever since nine black church members were murdered by a white supremacist last year, the racist history associated with the flag has been the topic of many conversations across the country. Many major retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, chose to stop selling items which displayed the flag.
But according to CBS News, there are still many people who see the flag as a symbol of Southern pride — and there are also people, like KKK members, who see the flag as a symbol of “white pride.” Six out of 10 consumers use the internet to research and purchase products; as the flag controversy became more heated, more people began looking for retailers who still sold Confederate paraphernalia.
Many smaller online stores have somehow been able to continue selling Confederate flags without too much fear of retaliation.
Kerry McCoy, owner and president of Arkansas-based FlagandBanner.com, told CBS News that the store sold Confederate flags “more for a dorm room or a gag gift” until the Black Lives Matter movement began.
Turns out that most Confederate flag purchases from FlagandBanner.com go to customers who live in California.