LOS ANGELES — A Ku Klux Klan leader who was injured when his small group of demonstrators brawled with counter-protesters in a Southern California park this weekend said Monday that he called police beforehand asking for security and was told, “We don’t do that.”

Will Quigg said in an interview that he contacted the Anaheim Police Department but that the agency denied his requests for a police presence. The KKK then told officers that the group would hire an outside security company.

“They said, ‘No, you can’t do that either,”‘ Quigg said.

Police are facing scrutiny for their response after three people were stabbed and several others were injured in the melee Saturday involving several dozen people and spanning a city block. Investigators determined that Klan members acted in self-defense after the counter-protesters attacked.

The department notified the public that the KKK planned to hold an anti-immigration protest at a park about 3 miles from Disneyland, but at least one witness said he saw no uniformed officers when the attack began.

Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said officers were present, but he has declined to say how many. He acknowledged that Quigg had contacted the department but believed that the group leader was asking for police to act as personal security guards.

“He was told how to contract for officers to do that, but did not want to spend the money,” Wyatt said Monday.

Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the department’s response about contracting officers is as if the KKK rally was the same as “an Oktoberfest or a New Year’s Day event.”

“It’s their way of saying, ‘We have no reason to believe there will be any trouble beyond the trouble you get at a rock concert,” he said, adding that police are obligated to ensure public safety.

Police departments are facing criticism for overpolicing, chilling free speech and being heavy-handed, O’Donnell said. That can make it difficult for officers to know how to handle a protest event.

Anaheim police said a plan was in place and officers at the protest quickly called for backup when the violence broke out. Additional officers arrived within less than two minutes.

Five KKK members arrested after the brawl later were released because evidence showed they acted in self-defense, police said. Seven people still in custody were seen beating, stomping and attacking the Klansmen with wooden posts, Wyatt said. Police said the Klansmen stabbed three counter-protesters.