After hearing reports about violence against black men in Casper, WY, members of a local NAACP branch took action. Since the assaults were often followed by Ku Klux Klan pamphlets being distributed, the Gillette, WY NAACP initially considered a rally against the white supremacist group, but then decided to reach out to a member of the Klan and have a meeting. What resulted was an at times random–and not entirely fruitful–meeting with John Abarr, a member of the United Klans of America:

Hate-driven violence may still occur, but those perpetrators [who beat black men in Casper] are hoodlums, he says. There’s no proof that’s Klan violence, Abarr says. There was certainly violence in the past, but even with the splintered KKK, there’s no proof the Klan is violent any more.

“You’re really confusing me, because I don’t think you understand the seriousness of your group,” says the NAACP’s Mel Hamilton.

The disbelief in the room is palpable.

“I think what Mel is saying, is that based on your history, based on the Klan’s history, it’s hard to shed the skin of your group not being violent, not being killers, murderers, terrorizers,” Simmons says. “It’s hard to imagine that.”

During the Reconstruction, those things did go on, Abarr says. The Reconstruction Era covered the period between the mid-1860s and mid-1870s. But what about the wave of Klan lynchings in the 1920s to 1940s, for example? Well, Abarr doesn’t know much about that.

“I just know what it is today,” he says. “I had relatives in the Klan in the ’20s and they didn’t lynch anybody.”

Hamilton shoots back: “As far as you know.”

His relatives quit the Klan because someone wanted them to kill somebody, Abarr says.

The Klan is a secret society, and Abarr won’t discuss how it’s evolved or what it does. It’s a canned answer. Abarr reads it in a rush, from a piece of paper.

Read the entire article at the Star-Tribune.

Black leaders meeting with white supremacist organizations is not new. Marcus Garvey also met with the KKK. Still, since neither Garvey then nor the members of the NAACP now got what they wanted, is there a purpose to these kinds of meetings? Can such engagements prevent racist violence? Your thoughts? Sound off below!!!!