Violence at KKK rally
March 15, 1980: What was billed as a “peaceful” Ku Klux Klan rally in Oceanside ended in violence with one man badly beaten with baseball bats, two others injured and a dog killed.
Members of the Ku Klux Klan with helmets, shields and hockey masks. Credit: Dave Gatley/Los Angeles Times
Times staff writer Mark Forster reported in the next day’s paper:
OCEANSIDE — A Ku Klux Klan rally in an Oceanside park Saturday ended in a rock-and-bottle-throwing melee between about two dozen klansmen and several hundred angry spectators.
Two people in the crowd, one of them a television crew member, suffered injuries in the disturbance and one klansman, bleeding from the arms, was carried away to a waiting car.
An Oceanside police officer shot and killed a klansman’s dog when it attacked the officer.
No arrests were made and no police officers were reported injured, Oceanside Police Capt. Robert Smith said. …
One of the spectators, identified as Bruce Kala, was listed in stable condition with head injures at the hospital after he was beaten by several klansmen.
The violence began about 2:30 p.m. when the Klansmen began to parade around John Landes Park, located in a racially mixed, middle-class neighborhood.
The crowd, which had gathered several hours earlier, jeered during brief speeches by Klan members.
Some members of the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles when the klansmen marched around the park before leaving.
Equipped with loaded revolvers, watch dogs, baseball bats and shields, the riot-helmeted klansmen attempted to block the bottles and rocks.
Halfway through the park, the klansmen began throwing the objects back and chasing members of the crowd following them.
Smith said he declared an unlawful assembly at that point and mobilized 60 officers waiting in a nearby community center.
These photos by staff photographer Dave Gatley were not published the day after the melee. All three were later published in “The Best of Photojournalism/6” yearbook published by the National Press Photographers Assn. and University of Missouri School of Journalism. The KKK shield photo was also published in the L.A. Times’ 1987 book “Images of Our Times: Sixty Years of Photography from the Los Angeles Times.”
One of the jeering spectators gets into a fencing match with a KKK member. Credit: Dave Gatley/Los Angeles Times
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