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Leader at Connecticut VFW post resigns after being outed as former KKK member

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 3, 2018

WASHINGTON — The second-in-command at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Connecticut resigned Monday night after it was revealed he was convicted of crimes in the 1990s as a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Scott E. Palmer, the former vice commander of VFW Post 591 in Wallingford, Conn., was one of multiple KKK members arrested in the mid-1990s during investigations into a rising number of hate crimes in the area, the Record-Journal in Connecticut reported Monday. The past convictions were brought to light after Palmer made disparaging comments on social media.

Post Commander Michael Del Monaco on Monday stood by Palmer amid increased scrutiny of his criminal past. By Tuesday, VFW headquarters released a statement denouncing Palmer’s behavior.

“The VFW does not condone or tolerate any action that disrespects someone else,” VFW National Commander Keith Harman said in a prepared statement. “We have no tolerance for racism. Our nation is great because of the diversity of its people, and there is no place within this organization for a differing opinion.”

VFW Spokesman Joe Davis said Palmer resigned his position as vice commander Monday night and was “formally removed from his office this morning” by Del Monaco. He is still a VFW member.

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Harman said the VFW was investigating and would “explore every possible option as it pertains to this member’s actions.”

Palmer was convicted in 1993 of intimidation based on bigotry for punching a customer outside a gay bar, the Record-Journal reported. He later pleaded guilty to the same charge after yelling slurs at Hispanic men.

Before the VFW issued a statement about the incident Tuesday afternoon, another veterans group – High Ground Veterans Advocacy -- urged them to publicly condemn Palmer’s actions.

“As a Latino member, this is especially worrisome,” said Robert Molina, a member of High Ground Veterans Advocacy and the VFW. “When I refer veteran colleagues, many of whom are minorities, to various [veterans service organizations], I want to be sure that they receive the same treatment as any other. If there’s a KKK member welcome at any post at a [veterans service organization], clearly that isn’t a place that’s safe for minorities.”

wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

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