Tom Bibiyan Asks Why Anaheim Police Freed the Klansman Who Stabbed Him
A scarred Tom Bibiyan returns to the scene of his stabbing
Photo by Gabriel San Roman / OC Weekly
Tom Bibiyan pulls up to the southwest corner of Pearson Park in Anaheim, right where a black Suburban packed with Ku Klux Klan members arrived around noon on February 27 before all hell broke out. The soft-spoken Jewish Green Party activist walks out his car sporting a "Peace on Earth" shirt and gives a weakened hand shake thanks to a Klansman's blade severing a nerve that day causing him to lose feeling in his fingers.
The 34-year-old Los Angeles city council candidate for the 26th district lifts his right arm up showing a scar around the elbow where San Francisco Klansman Charles "Chuck" Donner stabbed him first. He then pulls up his shirt revealing another scar, and three metal staples on the left side of his chest where Donner stabbed him next. The Klukker walked out of jail a free man the day after the melee, with Anaheim police claiming the evidence showed he stabbed Bibiyan and two others in self-defense.
"The self-defense argument for Donner doesn't apply to me," Bibiyan counters. "I didn't beat him up!"
A fellow Green Party activist invited Bibiyan to the Klan counter-protest event page on Facebook. He arrived by himself to Pearson Park about 20 minutes before the Klan showed up and didn't come with any intentions to kick Klan ass that day. A longtime activist, Bibiyan has been to many protests before but hadn't encountered anything like the violence that erupted in Anaheim.
"For a second, we didn't think the Klan would show up," Bibiyan says, walking along Cypress Street in recounting his take on the sequence of events that unfolded next. "Usually, with these kind of things, the police have one side of the street set up for one group and the other for counter-demonstrators."
No uniformed police presence was around though, when the Klan finally arrived. Within minutes, the initial brawl broke out between antifas and Klan members behind the hate group's Suburban, but Bibiyan took no part in it. He saw the blood-drenched fire hydrant after Armando Campos had been stabbed by Donner and knew things were taking a turn for the worse.
The Klan-mobile peeled out, leaving their people behind. Grand Dragon Will Quigg tasted asphalt after getting shoved by counter-protesters during on his long walk up Cypress Street with Donner. Bibiyan ended up coming face-to-face with Donner along the way. The Klansman gave him a menacing look before Bibiyan put his elbows up in a defensive stance. He didn't know Donner had a knife but knew the Klan had stabbed people and says he wanted to subdue him into a citizen's arrest. A grainy cell phone video partially captures the quick scuffle that ensued (5:16 mark), lasting mere seconds.
Bibiyan applying pressure to his chest stab wound
Photo by Eric Hood / OC Weekly
Bibiyan says he kicked his leg out when the Klansman lunged towards him. The knife sliced Bibiyan's forearm before another quick thrust plunged the blade into his chest. "Dude, you've been stabbed," a person pointed out to Bibiyan. "What the fuck?" he said bewildered by what just happened. Blood trickled down Bibiyan's chest as he gave chase to Donner. He managed to deliver a swift boot to the ass in front of a uniformed police officer. The copper took Bibiyan down first before his partner finally cuffed Donner after he had walked away. By that time, a full five minutes had already passed since the Klan initially arrived.
Bibiyan got carted off in an ambulance to a Orange County Global Medical Center. The chest stab wound came close to puncturing a lung, and he suffered difficulty breathing until his condition upgraded from critical to stable. Police cuffed his wrist to the hospital bed well into the early morning hours. "They wanted me to talk, give my side of the story and read me my Miranda rights," Bibiyan recalls. He declined to say anything without an attorney present. Bibiyan says police took the cuffs off, assured him he wouldn't face charges and left.
After four days, Bibiyan became well enough to be discharged from the hospital. Anaheim police didn't arrest or book him for assault with a deadly weapon, like other counter-protesters. He claims no Anaheim police detectives or Orange County District Attorney investigators ever bothered following up to interview him about the incident.
Donner walks with knife in hand moments before his arrest; Bibiyan in background being tackled by cops
Photo by Eric Hood/OC Weekly
Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners
TicketsFri., Sep. 29, 7:07pm
Premium Seating: Los Angeles Angels v. Seattle Mariners
TicketsFri., Sep. 29, 7:07pm
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
TicketsSat., Sep. 30, 7:00pm
Premuim Level Seating - Los Angeles Lakers
TicketsSat., Sep. 30, 7:00pm
The Weekly asked Anaheim police if that was indeed the case, and why Donner had been freed on the grounds of self-defense if the third person he stabbed didn't even get arrested or booked on suspicion of assault. "Per the detectives, the case is still under investigation and review by the District Attorney," Anaheim police spokesman Daron Wyatt wrote back. "I cannot comment at this time." The OCDA has yet to announce any criminal charges stemming from the melee.
Activists have tried to hail Bibiyan as an ass-kicking antifa, a title he denies. He believes his story's been overlooked, not only by police investigators, but by the media. He doesn't have much hope for his right hand ever being the same again, and doubts it will fully regain its strength. At least the staples to his chest are due to be removed soon.
"The guy took a fucking knife to me," Bibiyan adds. "He could have killed me."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.