(GREAT FALLS, Mt.) — A Montana man wants to rebrand the Ku Klux Klan as a nicer, more diverse organization, but many people are saying the idea is baloney.
John Abarr told the Great Falls Tribune he’s ready to shed his white supremacist ways and has started a new KKK group called the Rocky Mountain Knights, which doesn’t shed its KKK label but at the same time won’t discriminate against race, religion or sexual orientation.
“The KKK is for a strong America,” Abarr told the newspaper. “White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan.”
Abarr claims his opinions have changed over the years, the Great Falls Tribune reported. Last year he met with the NAACP to discuss how the two organizations can co-exist peacefully, and said he does not promote racial violence, despite the KKK’s history.
Rachel Carroll-Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, told ABC News Wednesday that Abarr is a known white supremacist and said she doesn’t believe he’s really reformed. He once ran a failed race for Congress, has distributed racist flyers and even once suggested the Northwest become a homeland for the white race, she said.
“We have actually worked with a few defecting members of white supremacist groups in the past, and it always starts with an apology,” Carroll-Rivas said. “And he hasn’t done that.”
She adds that if Abarr were serious, he would drop the KKK label.
“He’s still using the label and engaging in the ritual of using the hoods and robes and not apologizing for the hurt he’s done in Montana,” she said. “I don’t take his message of reform seriously.”
Jimmy Simmons of the NAACP told the Great Falls Tribune he believes Abarr’s beliefs have changed, but also questioned the new group’s ties to the Klan.
“The use of the letters KKK instills fear in people,” Simmons told the newspaper.
The United Klans of America is unhappy with Abarr’s use of the KKK’s name, according to the Great Falls Tribune.
“That man’s going against everything the bylaws of the constitution of the KKK say,” leader Bradley Jenkins told the newspaper. “He’s trying to hide behind the KKK to further his political career.”
Abarr did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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