Police brutality charges leveled after Klan rally

AUSTIN, Texas -- Mayor Carole McClellan said Sunday police will conduct an investigation into alleged police brutality against a Hispanic activist beaten during a violence-plagued Ku Klux Klan march.

Thirteen people were arrested and 11 people -- including four officers, six anti-Klan protesters and one reporter -- were injured Saturday during the Klan march to the state Capitol.


Mrs. McClellan said the investigation was called after city officials reviewed television tapes of several police officers repeatedly striking Paul Hernandez of Austin with billE:lubs while he was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

Hernandez, 36, was treated for cuts and bruises.

Police Chief Frank Dyson declined to comment on the incident but Mrs. McClellan said she would not prejudge the police action.

'You have to understand what happened just before that,' she said, apparently referring to the crowd's assault on the Klansmen and police at the conclusion of the march.

She said a report on the incident would be made to the City Council.

About 400 city, county and state police officers were confronted by a chanting, rock-throwing crowd of about 2,000 people who surrounded the 70 Klansmen during their 10-block march from a city park to the Capitol and back.


During the melee, law officers and Klansmen were pelted with a barrage of bricks, rocks, bottles and sticks.

Hernandez was not available for comment Sunday but Abela Mancias, 29, said she saw a policeman striking Hernandez in the stomach with a billE:lub.

She said when she tried to help Hernandez, she was struck on the head. Ms. Mancias said she observed Hernandez lying on the ground handcuffed and being beaten by several officers.

'There was no reason to use force,' she said.

Police said earlier Hernandez refused to move back when told to do so and asaulted an officer. He was arrested on charges of simple assault against a police officer and failure to obey a lawful order.

A spokesman for the Brown Berets, one of the protest groups at the march, claimed police singled out Hernandez even though numerous whites were observed hurling missiles at the Klansmen.

After the march, Klansmen assembled in the parking lot of a motel to assess damage to their vehicles.

Asked what the march accomplished, Charles Lee of Houston, a Klan grand dragon, said: 'It showed the decent people of Austin the kind of filth that is on the streets here.'

Anti-Klan demonstrators who were arrested were charged with assault, inciting to riot, unlawful carrying of a prohibited weapon and possession of marijuana. One Klansman was arrested before the march after police found a shotgun, a rifle and a pistol in his truck.


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