Tito Ortiz, the Huntington Beach mayor pro tem, appeared to suggest that the Democratic Party played a part in planning the recent far-right rally that took place in the Californian city on Sunday.
Ortiz, a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion turned politician, uploaded a video to Instagram prior to the "White Lives Matter" rally on April 11, in which he denounced all hate groups. The white supremacist rally was promoted on encrypted messaging service Telegram.
"I'm Tito Ortiz of Huntington Beach, California. I've lived here 46 years and the last couple of days I've been hearing some news about the KKK coming to Huntington Beach," Ortiz said.
"I denounce it 100 percent. I denounce all hate groups that even come to Huntington Beach. This is a beautiful city and it will be protected. HBPD [Huntington Beach Police Department], thank you very much for your support. Once again I denounce all hate groups.
"I'm an American. I want to do the right thing and live this American dream," he added. "It's important to me. Very very important to me. Gotta protect it. So all hate groups. All racist groups, I want no part of it."
In a comment to the video, an Instagram user asked: "Actual KKK in California in 2021?" to which Ortiz responded: "Yeah it's called a democratic party."
Another comment under his video asked "Why didn't you mention BLM and antifa? We know it's most likely set up by one of those." In response, Tito said: "I should just say the Democratic party."
In a separate Instagram post, Tito warned Huntington Beach residents not to attend the rally, claiming it was a "trap by the KKK or people pretending to be the KKK" to discredit the city.
Some Telegram channels planning marches in cities such as Philadelphia and New York did turn out to be hoaxes created by antifa to expose neo-Nazis and white supremacists hoping to take part.
The rally in Huntington Beach did not appear to be a fake as it had the largest number of attendees of the coordinated "White Lives Matter" rallies promoted across the country that day. They were however outnumbered by 200 counter-protesters.
Many other marches in cities such as Norfolk, Virginia, or Memphis, Tennessee, had few or no people turn up.
In the days ahead of the rally, Tito Ortiz was accused of "empowering" white supremacists because of previous controversial comments on Facebook about how he planned on protecting the city during a Black Lives Matter protest last year.
"I'm just very worried when you see things like Tito Ortiz on record saying things like Black Lives Matter were coming here to rape and murder our women," one woman said during a Huntington Beach City Council meeting earlier this month, according to Bloody Elbow, which generally reports on combat sports. "And then he's silent about a KKK rally?
"You have your time to shine; talk to your people and tell them not to come to our city. You are empowering these people and it's f*****g disgusting."
Following his city council election last November, Ortiz has used his platform to spread misinformation about COVID-19, referring to it as a "plandemic," and refusing to wear a mask at city hall events.
Ortiz has also spread conspiracy theories connected to the QAnon movement.
The ardent Donald Trump supporter was also found selling clothing with the QAnon slogan "WWG1WGA"—an abbreviation of ''where we go one we go all"—on his website during his campaign.
His fellow council members passed a vote of no-confidence in February, which was later shelved when he apologized for his behavior, meaning he could keep his role as Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr's right-hand man.
Huntington Beach City Council has been contacted for comment.