Something historic happened in Casper, Wy. over the weekend. The local chapter president of the NAACP met with a representative of the KKK, an no one got shot, whipped or lynched. What was really significant, though, is how the meeting ended.
After extended planning and under heavy security, KKK organizer John Abarr met with Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP branch Saturday night at a Casper hotel conference room. The meeting came about at Simmons’ suggestion, and three other NAACP members attended, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
At issue was a series of white-on-black beatings in Casper, coupled with the appearance of KKK flyers in Gillett, 120 miles away.
Abarr assured the gathering that the new Klan was very different from its predecessor. It’s a non-violent Christian group that pushes conservative political causes.
“If you want to talk about hate, get a hater,” Simmons said, according to the Star-Tribune. “Let him tell you something about hate.”
He said that the beatings had nothing to do with the Klan, but were rather the work of a splinter group. As for the flyers, they simply advertised the Klan’s neighborhood watch group.
He also related that Klan imperial wizard Bradley Jenkins gave the meeting his blessing in hopes of reaching an understanding.
“He lives in Alabama, and he told me he would love to sit down with the NAACP in Alabama and talk,” Abarr said.
It turns out Abarr is a complicated guy. In addition to being a Klan muckety-muck, he’s also a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Tribune noted Abarr’s reasons for joining the Klan.
“I like it because you wear robes, and get out and light crosses, and have secret handshakes,” he said. “I like being in the Klan — I sort of like it that people think I’m some sort of outlaw.”
Probably nothing of significance got accomplished at the meeting. What was significant was how it ended.
When the meeting came to a close, Simmons reportedly invited Abarr to join the NAACP The Klansman accepted, paying not only the $30 membership fee but also including a $20 donation.
“We’ll have to do this again sometime,” Abarr said, shutting his briefcase, according to the Tribune. “Or maybe not. I don’t know. We’ll have to keep in contact for sure, though.”
Watch the following YouTube video describing Simmons’ involvement with the NAACP.