HELENA – Montana state legislators this week received a newsletter from a white supremacist group tied to the Ku Klux Klan that wants to turn the Northwest into “the future homeland of the white race from people all over the world.”
The newsletter came from the Northwest Knights, whose national headquarters is based in Harrison, Ark., and whose website, www.KKK.com, is that of the Ku Klux Klan.
It mentions that the Montana First Committee was formed in 2011 as an umbrella group for “white racialists in Montana, who want to create a white homeland in the Northwest.”
The Northwest Knights, the newsletter said, is a “fraternal organization that is dedicated towards white civil rights in the Northwest.”
“With the national debt skyrocketing, we have the perfect argument for seceding from the union,” the newsletter said. “Montana has not had any say in the trillions of dollars that the federal government has borrowed. We may not have another white president. Minorities are gaining numbers and political power.”
The newsletter had links to the Militia of Montana, a group that has advocated states forming their own militias, and the Northwest Front of Seattle, another group with Klan ties.
In response, state Sen. Kim Gillan, D-Billings, said, “Here we go again.”
“I fought against this far-right rhetoric during the (2011) session,” said Gillan, now a candidate for the U.S. House. “It just distracts us from the important issues to Montanans like getting the economy back on track, not seceding from the union or forming militias.
“Instead of being concerned about raising militias, we should be concerned about raising the number of Montanans who graduate from college.”
Travis McAdam is executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, which monitors white supremacist and similar groups.
He said the return address on the Northwest Knights newsletter is the same postal box in Great Falls used by John Abarr. A former KKK organizer in Billings, Abarr announced last year he would run as Republican from Great Falls for the U.S. House but later dropped out.
Abarr could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“We’ll continue to watch if this is his next attempt to try to get something going,” McAdam said of Abarr, who lost a race for the Legislature in 2002.
As a U.S. House candidate, Abarr said he wanted to save the white race and that many people were upset that the United States had a black president, McAdam said.
McAdam said the newsletter is a reminder to legislators that “these ideas sometimes find their way into the political mainstream and that is a tactic that is used out there.”
Even if the Northwest Knights group isn’t out working hard, McAdam said the network still believes it’s important to track the group.
“It’s obviously much more troublesome when you have white supremacists out there in their communities organizing and recruiting,” McAdam said.