KKK-NAACP Meeting in Wyoming Accomplished Little, Say Attendees

Image: KKK-NAACP Meeting in Wyoming Accomplished Little, Say Attendees John Abarr, left, of the United Klans of America and Jimmy Simmons, right, president of the NAACP Casper, Wyoming branch.

Wednesday, 04 Sep 2013 11:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Attendees of the first-ever meeting between the Ku Klux Klan and a local branch of the NAACP in Casper, Wyo., said little was accomplished Saturday, except a self-professed Klansman paid for an NAACP membership.

The meeting Saturday between the two groups included John Abarr, an organizer of the United Klans of America, and was held under heavy security, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

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Casper NAACP President Jimmy Simmons said he called for the meeting after Klan literature was found in Gillette, Wyo., where black men were assaulted for dating white women, according to the Star-Tribune.

"If you want to talk about hate, get a hater," Simmons told the Star-Tribune before the meeting. "Let him tell you something about hate."

Gillette Police Lt. Chuck Deaton told The Associated Press that he had not received any reports of attacks on African-Americans, but it's possible that the ones Simmons is referring to happened outside of city limits, where they would not have been reported to his department.

Abarr said he filled out an NAACP membership form so he can get the group's newsletters and gain insight into their views. He said he paid the $30 fee to join and gave a $20 donation. 

When the AP asked if he offered a KKK membership to NAACP members, Abarr said he did not.

"You have to be white to join the Klan," he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., and the United Klans of America told the AP they believe the meeting was the first of its kind.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said the meeting won't do any good for NAACP.

"I think it's outrageous and counterproductive," Potok said. "It gives legitimacy to the Klan as an organization you can talk to."

Simmons said he wanted to open up dialogue about violence against African-Americans in the state.

"They're trying to shed that violent skin, but it seems like they're just changing the packaging," Simmons said after the meeting.

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