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For the first time in their history, members of the Ku Klux Klan and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People met. The meeting took place between local Casper, Wyoming leaders from the two groups after recent incidents in the city.
The meeting took place on Saturday and was first reported on by the Casper-Star Tribune. Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK member from Great Falls, Montana, met at the Casper Parkway Plaza Hotel under tight security. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America told the Associated Press that this was the first time members of the two groups met and it ended with Abarr paying $50 to join the NAACP to receive information.
The meeting was set up after incidents of hate crimes in Gillette, a city north of Casper, were reported. Simmons said the crimes were beatings of African-American men and that KKK literature was being handed out. Simmons didn’t provide any details on these crimes and Gillette police Lt. Chuck Deaton told the AP, “In the 21 years that I've been here, that's the first I heard of the Klan in Gillette.”
Nevertheless, the meeting did take place. “I don't know if we accomplished too much," Abarr told the AP. "We're not about violence. We're about being proud to be white."
United Klans of America imperial wizard Bradley Jenkins did say that they sanctioned the meeting. However, an NAACP leader told the Casper Star-Tribune that she didn’t hear about the meeting until reading the paper’s coverage of it.
“In fact, I did not give it it a green light when it was proposed,” Rosemary Lytle, president of the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference, told the paper. “The appropriate chain of command would have started with my approval.”
The topics of the meeting were reportedly segregation, race relations and interracial marriage.