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NAACP-Klan meeting in Wyo. a first

DENVER — A secret meeting between a representative of the Wyoming chapter of the NAACP and a Ku Klux Klan organizer ended with the Klan member paying $50 to join the civil rights organization, participants said.

Saturday’s meeting between Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK organizer from Great Falls, Mont., took place at a hotel in Casper, Wyo., under tight security, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said Tuesday the meeting was a first.

Abarr said he filled out an NAACP membership form so he could get the group’s newsletters and some insight into its views. He said he paid a $30 fee to join, plus a $20 donation.

Simmons said he asked for the meeting after receiving reports that KKK literature was being distributed in Gillette, about 130 miles north of Casper, and to discuss race relations, including what he said were reported beatings of African-American men. He did not provide details.

Abarr said he knew nothing about hate crimes or the literature, which was distributed in a residential neighborhood of Gillette in October.

United Klans of America imperial wizard Bradley Jenkins of Birmingham, Ala., said in a telephone interview that he sanctioned the meeting and called it a first between the KKK and the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

‘‘I don’t know if we accomplished too much,’’ Abarr said.

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