WALLINGFORD, Conn. – A day after voicing support for a Veterans of Foreign Wars leader in Connecticut convicted for bigotry crimes as a Ku Klux Klan member, the group said Tuesday it does not tolerate racism and the man has resigned.
Scott E. Palmer stepped down as senior vice commander of Post 591 in Wallingford on Monday night, VFW National Commander Keith Harman said. The local post and a national VFW spokesman said previously they did not have concerns about Palmer's service.
"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," Harman said. "The VFW is continuing to investigate this matter and will explore every possible option as it pertains to this member's actions."
The Record-Journal newspaper reported that Palmer was among several Klansmen arrested as a part of a hate crimes investigation in the Wallingford area in the 1990s. Palmer was convicted of intimidation for punching a customer outside a gay bar and for yelling ethnic slurs at a group of Hispanic men. Palmer did not respond to calls seeking comment.
The local VFW's Facebook page said they removed Palmer. Officials there deferred questions to the national VFW.
The president of the Connecticut NAACP, Scot X. Esdaile, said he was appalled by the organization's initial decision to stand by Palmer and called for national VFW leaders to intervene.