NAACP, KKK meet in Wyoming
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
DENVER — A meeting between the Wyoming chapter of the NAACP and an organizer for the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend is believed to be the first of its kind.
Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK organizer from Great Falls, Mont., met under tight security at a hotel in Casper, Wyo., the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said Tuesday that the meeting is a first.
Abarr told The Associated Press that he met with Simmons on Saturday and ended up filling out an NAACP membership form so he can get the group's newsletters and some insight into its views. He said he paid the $30 fee to join, plus a $20 donation.
But Abarr said he didn't ask anybody at the meeting if they would like to join the KKK.
“You have to be white to join the Klan,” he said.
Simmons asked for the meeting over reports that KKK literature was being distributed in Gillette, about 130 miles north of Casper, and that black men were being beaten while out in public with white women.
“It's about opening dialogue with a group that claims they're trying to reform themselves from violence,” Simmons said in a telephone interview on Tuesday, saying the meeting went well. “They're trying to shed that violent skin, but it seems like they're just changing the packaging.”
Abarr said he knows nothing about any beatings or the literature that was distributed in a residential neighborhood in October.
Gillette police Lt. Chuck Deaton said 10 hate or bias crimes have been reported in the past five years that involved name-calling, none of them assaults on blacks.
Deaton said any beatings may have happened outside of city limits and were not reported to Gillette police.
The literature said, “Save our land and join the Klan,” Deaton said. He said police were unable to speak with the “young man” who was distributing the material, and he was chased away by neighbors.
“In the 21 years that I've been here, that's the first I heard of the Klan in Gillette,” Deaton said.
Abarr said he agreed to meet with Simmons as way to open a dialogue between two race-based groups. United Klans of America imperial wizard Bradley Jenkins of Birmingham, Ala., said in a telephone interview that he sanctioned the meeting and called it a first between the KKK and the NAACP.
“I don't know if we accomplished too much,” Abarr said. “We're not about violence. We're about being proud to be white.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Budget deal reverses $63B in cuts, excludes extension of jobless benefits
- ‘Walking Dead’ actress guilty of sending ricin letters
- 6-year-old Colo. boy suspended for giving girl a kiss
- Web ‘sextortionist’ jailed on 31 felony counts
- Farm bill off for now, but milk prices not expected to spike — yet
- ‘Volcker Rule’ restricts banks in risky investments
- Nevada search has very happy ending
- $80M awarded in collision in which N.M. woman suffocated in sand
- Suspect foreign helicopter firms still on Pentagon payroll
- Senate Dems confirm 2 picks
- Americans move toward better health