(AP) - The leader of the Ku Klux Klan’s California chapter, who led a “white lives matter” rally that erupted in violence in Anaheim, Calif., this year, was arrested last week in connection with a North Carolina stabbing hours before a Klan parade in a nearby town to celebrate Donald Trump’s election, authorities said.
William Hagen and another man were charged with assault after they stabbed another Klan member, shortly before the white-supremacist group held a parade in Roxboro, N.C., to celebrate Trump’s victory, according to Capt. Frank Rose, who oversees criminal investigations for the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina.
Hagen and Chris Barker, who experts described as a national Klan leader, were involved in an argument with a man named Richard Dillon at Barker’s Yanceyville, N.C., home, according to Rose. The clash turned violent, and Hagen and Barker are accused of stabbing Dillon several times, according to Rose.
Dillon reported the assault to sheriff’s deputies around 3 a.m. on Dec. 3, Rose said. Barker was arrested at his home a short time later, and Hagen was arrested later the same day during a motor-vehicle stop, Rose said.
Both men are charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury, Rose said.
They are both being held in the Caswell County detention center in lieu of bail.
Hagen is the “Grand Dragon,” or state leader, of the Loyal White Knights faction of the Klan in California, according to Carla Hill, an investigative researcher with the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks members of hate groups. Barker is the “Imperial Wizard,” or national leader, of the Loyal White Knights, a faction of between 150 and 200 white supremacists across the country, Hill said. Dillon, the person who was stabbed, is also a known Klan member from Indiana, she said.
Hill said many Klan members had traveled to North Carolina to participate in the pro-Trump rally. Hagen, who also goes by the name William Quigg, often travels to attend Loyal White Knights rallies, and was spotted at a white supremacist gathering in Georgia earlier this year, she said.
The parade, which gained widespread attention after a reported surge in hate crimes following Trump’s election night victory, involved about 20 or 30 vehicles driving through Roxboro waiving flags and praising the president-elect, Hill said.
Trump has received support from a number of white supremacists and ethno-nationalists over the course of his candidacy. Earlier this year, a white nationalist from Los Angeles was mistakenly listed among Trump’s California delegates. The president-elect has repeatedly denounced the adulation of such fringe groups, but critics contend he has not been forceful enough in his distancing himself from their support.
In February, Hagen was one of five Klan members involved in a rally that quickly turned bloody in Anaheim’s Pearson Park. Counterprotesters set upon the Klansmen as soon as they appeared, and a rolling brawl erupted along a street adjacent to the park. Three people were stabbed by Klan members, but Orange County prosecutors later decided they had acted in self-defense.
Seven counterprotesters were charged with assault or resisting arrest in connection with the February rally.
Hagen was on scene that day, and could be seen fighting with protesters for control of an American flag. He was thrown to the ground at one point and kicked by counterprotesters, but later rescued from the assault by Brian Levin, director of California State University San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
“How do you feel that a Jewish guy just saved your life?” Levin said he asked Hagen that day.