Accused Kzoo Nazi sympathizer meets with NAACP

Revered Strick Strickland (left) meets with Aaron VanArsdale on Aug. 19, 2017.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo businessman forced to shut down his bar over controversial photos with Nazi symbols met with the NAACP Saturday.

Reverend Strick Strickland, the president of the Metropolitan Kalamazoo branch for the NAACP, reached out to Aaron VanArsdale to have a productive conversation about the photos and how he can learn from it moving forward.

“I felt as though it would be unfair for me, as a community leader, to perpetuate this and not have reached to him and given him a fair opportunity to influence my thinking,” Dr. Strickland said.

Earlier this week, old photos on VanArsdale’s Facebook page were shared thousands of times. The backlash has forced him to shut down Craft Draft 2 Go, which was vandalized Wednesday.

VanArsdale has since publicly acknowledged the photos were inappropriate and apologized.

“I’m kinda out of the industry now so I’ll have to find something else to get in to. That’s just the consequences. I’m not going to blame anybody else,” he said.

Both men agreed the meeting was a positive one.

“It was a humbling experience for me to be invited here and have him sit down and share some things with me, a good learning experience,” VanArsdale said.

Dr. Strickland added he found VanArsdale’s intentions for the meeting to be genuine.

“I found Aaron to be extremely sincere and apologetic and I’m excited about the future and moving forward,” he said.