When Ku Klux Klan members clashed with angry counter-protestors at a small Klan rally in Anaheim last year, a confrontation that ended with three stabbings and 13 people arrested, Police Chief Raul Quezada told City Council members the rally began two hours earlier than officers expected.
Quezada had faced public criticism that argued his department failed to send enough police to the Feb. 27, 2016 rally, despite knowing about it days in advance.
But counter to what Quezada told the City Council, internal emails and police reports about the incident, provided to Voice of OC by Anaheim resident Duane Roberts and from the city through public records requests, suggest police officers had information the rally would begin at noon, not 1:30 p.m. as the chief said.
Now Quezada is under scrutiny by the city’s Office of Independent Review for his remarks, one of two investigations into the chief’s conduct initiated in 2016. Both investigations are ongoing, according to city spokesman Mike Lyster.
Duane Roberts, the Anaheim resident who filed a complaint about Quezada’s KKK rally statements said he was concerned “Quezada's false, inaccurate and misleading statements about what transpired” influenced the city’s Public Safety Board discussion on whether residents should be required to request a permit to hold public protests.
“Instead of looking at whether the APD (Anaheim Police Department) made tactical errors...they focused their attention on ordinances that would curb free speech rights for not only the Klan, but everybody,” Roberts said.
Quezada told the City Council the department didn't know exactly when the Klan would arrive or where they were going to park their cars, saying “that information is not something we have available. Nor that’s something that is mandated that they share with us.”
The OC Weekly reported as early as Feb 24 that the Klan was planning a rally at Anaheim’s Pearson Park, sparking plans from counter-protestors to arrive earlier to hold their own demonstration.
The day before the rally, the police department’s Facebook page posted the event would begin at 1:30 p.m., although Sgt. Daron Wyatt told the Los Angeles Times in a story published the same day the demonstration would begin at 10 a.m.
In an email on Feb. 24, investigator Chuck Schroth told Lt. Curtis Faulkner of the Community Policing Team he received a voicemail from Klan member Chuck Donner requesting uniformed protection at their march.
Two days later, in the same email chain, Sgt. Chris Masilon wrote to Faulkner the Klan expected 20 demonstrators and they would be protesting on the west side of the park facing Harbor Boulevard.
“Hours are 1200-1400,” Masilon wrote, in military time for 12:00 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Roberts also gave Voice of OC documents, which he said he obtained legally, that appear to be follow-up police reports about the KKK rally. The city currently is reviewing the documents at Voice of OC’s request for their authenticity.
Although Quezada told council members the rally began around 11:30 a.m., multiple police reports suggest Klan members arrived around noon.
Officer A. Guo wrote in a Feb. 27 police report that around noon the day of the rally he was working plainclothes in the Pearson Park area, sitting in his vehicle at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and Cypress Street, when he saw two white men in black shirts with patches exit a vehicle.
“I could hear indistinct yelling by subjects in the crowd. I then saw what appeared to be several subjects involved in a physical altercation on the south sidewalk of Cypress Street,” Guo wrote.
Masilon wrote in a Feb 28 report that he “was monitoring my radio regarding a possible rally at Pearson Park” when he got a call around 12:10 p.m. about an incident at the park.
Roberts said he believes Quezada lied to the City Council about what the department knew and should be fired.
“If a police officer lies under oath, they can be prosecuted for perjury, and they spend time in prison. If you lie on a police report, that’s a misdemeanor and you can go to jail,” Roberts said. “I’m of the opinion that he (Quezada) should be fired.”
After Roberts’ complaint and reporting by the OC Weekly, the city’s Public Safety Board voted to ask City Manager Paul Emery to request the Office of Independent Review investigate the allegations.
Quezada declined to comment through a city spokesman, citing the confidentiality of personnel investigations.
However, in a March 2 email police Captain Steve Marcin called public comments about the department’s preparation and response “inaccurate, accusatory and misinformed.”
“The Chief stood steadfast in setting the record straight. Anaheim Police had a plan to allow the public to exercise 1st amendment rights and would respond if needed to keep the peace or if violence occurred,” Marcin wrote in an email about the department’s messaging about the KKK rally. “Once the attack began, APD responded swiftly, regained control and conducted a thorough and complete investigation.”
Quezada and his Deputy Chief Dan Cahill also are undergoing an internal investigation into allegations they falsified time cards and were paid for time they spent on vacation, according to ABC7 News.
Lyster said the review into Young’s complaint is “ongoing” but is almost complete.
Contact Thy Vo at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.