California KKK leader arrested in North Carolina stabbing before pro-Trump Klan parade

The California Ku Klux Klan leader who led a “white lives matter” rally that erupted in violence in Anaheim this year was arrested last week in connection with a North Carolina stabbing hours before a Klan parade celebrating Donald Trump’s election, authorities said Tuesday.

William Hagen and a second person were charged with assault after they stabbed another Klan member shortly before the victory parade about 20 miles away in Roxboro, N.C., according to Capt. Frank Rose, who oversees criminal investigations for the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina.

Hagen and Chris Barker, whom experts described as a national Klan leader, were involved in an argument with Richard Dillon at Barker’s Yanceyville, N.C., home, Rose said. The clash turned violent, and Hagen and Barker are accused of stabbing Dillon several times, the captain said. Dillon was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released from a local hospital a short time later, Rose said.

Dillon reported the stabbing to sheriff’s deputies about 3 a.m. Saturday, 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, he 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. 

Attempts to contact attorneys for Hagen and Barker were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for the Caswell County district attorney’s office declined to comment, and calls to the county clerk’s office attempting to obtain documents related to the charges were not returned.

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’s Center on Extremism, which tracks members of hate groups. Barker is the “Imperial Wizard,” or national leader, of the Loyal White Knights, a group 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 this year, she said. 

Last weekend’s parade in North Carolina, which gained widespread attention after a reported surge in hate crimes after Trump’s victory, involved about 20 or 30 vehicles driving through Roxboro with people waving flags and praising the president-elect, Hill said.

Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said Hagen also traveled to South Carolina to join protests against the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse in Columbia, after nine people were shot to death inside a Charleston church in 2015, allegedly by a white supremacist. 

Hagen, he said, has claimed in the past to have supported Hillary Clinton rather than Trump. But Levin said Hagen has openly praised Trump on social media.

Trump has received support from a number of white supremacists and ethno-nationalists over the course of his candidacy. 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 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. Klan members stabbed three people, 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 was later rescued from the assault by Levin.

“How do you feel that a Jewish guy just saved your life?” Levin said he asked Hagen that day.

On Tuesday, Levin said he did not regret helping Hagen when he was attacked in Anaheim, though he was troubled to see the Klan leader accused in a bloody assault less than a year later.

“Violence is the most bankrupt response to the most bankrupt racist ethical vision. The way to highlight how horrendous he is, is to make sure that he has the free will to change. He failed,” Levin said. “But that’s his failure, not mine.”

james.queally@latimes.com

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for crime and police news in California.

ALSO

Search for bodies in Oakland warehouse fire should be completed by midnight

Transient convicted of second-degree murder for stabbing AAA contractor during service call

L.A. subway commuters encounter bag searches, heavily armed deputies as city responds to terrorism threat


UPDATES:

5:30 p.m.: This story was updated with additional comments from Brian Levin.

This story first published at 2 p.m.

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
57°