A Ku Klux Klan leader in Montana says he has reformed his former hateful ways, and is opening a new chapter of the group that will be racially inclusive. Although the leader has voiced his sincerity regarding the new direction, people in the state are naturally skeptical.
Great Falls resident John Abarr, who was once the most well-known white supremacists in the state, claims he’s let go of his distaste for other races. His new Ku Klux Klan-related group, the Rocky Mountain Knights, is adopting his new approach to include everyone. According to local media, Abarr has yet to name how large his new group is but intends to move forward just the same.
From the Great Falls Tribune:
“The KKK is for a strong America,” Abarr said. “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.”
Though he’s long been involved in white supremacy organizations growing up in Wyoming and Montana, Abarr claims his opinions have slowly evolved. Last year he met with members of the NAACP in Casper, Wyo. It has inspired him to organize a peace summit with the NAACP and other religious groups in the summer of 2015.
“I thought it was a really good organization,” Abarr told the NAACP. “I don’t feel we need to be separate.”
Not everyone’s buying Abarr’s changed positions, including the Montana Human Rights Network. Co-Director Rachel Caroll-Rivas says the use of the KKK brand isn’t necessary for Abarr to start his group.
“If John Abarr was actually reformed, he could drop the label of the KKK,” she added.
Jimmy Simmons, the Wyoming chapter head of the NAACP, said he believes Abarr is truthful about trying to transform and may consider joining if everything shakes out.
Members of the Rocky Mountain Knights will stall have to wear hoods, robes, and perform the rituals associated with the KKK.