The Indiana man police say was stabbed by the head of the California chapter of the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend contends he was attacked because of an argument over a Los Angeles area Klan rally that resulted in several stabbings earlier this year.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Richard Dillon said he was attacked in North Carolina by William Hagen, the head of the California chapter of the Loyal White Knights faction of the Klan, after he criticized Hagen for endangering the lives of fellow Klan members during the February rally.
Hagen and Christopher Barker, whom experts describe as the national head of the Loyal White Knights, were both arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon Dec. 3 in North Carolina, according to the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office. Both men remain in the county detention center in lieu of bail.
Attempts to contact attorneys for Hagen and Barker have been 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 have not been returned since Tuesday.
Hagen and Dillon, 47, of Hammond, Ind., had both traveled to North Carolina to attend a “National Klonvocation,” or meeting, of the Loyal White Knights on Dec. 2, Dillon said. The next day, they planned to take part in a Klan-sponsored demonstration celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory in Roxboro, N.C., according to Dillon.
Dillon said he and Hagen were among at least two dozen people attending the meeting at Barker’s home in Yanceyville, N.C., on the day they arrived. During the gathering, Dillon said Hagen confronted him about critical comments he posted on a KKK “chat website” after the Anaheim rally in February.
Dillon said he had previously questioned Hagen’s decision to lead a Klan rally in Anaheim without security, and had blasted the “Grand Dragon” for endangering Klan members’ lives.
The rally erupted in violence when a large group of counter-protesters attacked the handful of Klan members who attended the rally, police and prosecutors have said. Three people were stabbed by Klan members during a rolling brawl, although prosecutors have said the Klan members acted in self-defense.
At the Dec. 2 meeting in North Carolina, Dillon said, he apologized to Hagen for the critical comments he made online. But the California Klan leader became aggressive after getting drunk on “Skyy vodka and orange juice,” according to Dillon.
Sometime after midnight, Hagen began cursing at Dillon, and Barker repeatedly urged the two men to fight, Dillon said. At one point, Hagen threatened to have Dillon thrown out of the Klan. Eventually, Hagen pulled out a knife and rushed him, Dillon said.
“I knew it was time to fight for my life to get out of the home,” Dillon said. “I got stuck several times in the chest, my thumb was split wide open, and there was blood gushing out of my chest.”
Barker soon became involved, and the three men engaged in a brawl that spilled to the outside of the home, Dillon said. Dillon struck both men in the face several times, but both continued to attack him with knives, he said.
In his police booking photograph, Hagen can be seen sporting two black eyes and cuts to his forehead and cheek.
Dillon said he stumbled to his car, staining the passenger side door with blood, as Barker continued to pursue him.
“In my personal opinion I think he seen me stuck, he seen the blood pumping out of my chest, and he did not want me leaving there alive,” Dillon said.
Dillon eventually escaped to a nearby hospital with a friend, where he was treated and released. He later reported the incident to the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office. Barker was arrested at his home a short time later, and Hagen was arrested the next day during a motor-vehicle stop, according to Capt. Frank Rose, who oversees criminal investigations for the Sheriff’s office.
Dillon said he has now quit the Loyal White Knights, and asserted that several members have also disavowed the group because of the stabbing. Experts on extremism say the Knights claim 150 to 200 members across the U.S.
Despite the near-fatal experience, Dillon said the attack did not change his beliefs, and that he plans to join another faction of the Klan.
“You can call me a white supremacist if that’s how you feel, but I don’t feel supreme to anybody. I’ve got my children and I want them to stay white,” said Dillon, who contends he does not hate minorities but simply rejects multiculturalism.
Asked why he, and the Klan at large, had expressed support for Trump and planned to host a victory parade in his honor, Dillon said they were trying to make the best of a bad situation.
“I voted for the better of two evils in my personal opinion,” he said.
Correction: The original version of this story misidentified Christopher Barker.