Frank Meeink became a SkinHead at age 13, and by age 18 he was roaming the country as a SkinHead leader and Neo-Nazi recruiter, along with gangs that beat up innocent people indiscriminately. In Illinois (“I hate Illinois Nazis” – Jake Blues) he appeared in his own cable-access TV show, “The Reich.”
Meeink was finally arrested and convicted of kidnapping and beating a member of a rival SkinHead gang. While in prison, goes his online bio, he “befriended men he used to think he hated, men of different races.”
After his release from prison, Meeink tried to rejoin his old SkinHead pals, except he could no longer “bring himself to hate those whom he now knew to be his friends.”
Now a noted speaker, author and founder of Harmony Through Hockey, as well as a board member for Life After Hate and presenter of Kindness Not Weakness curriculum, “Frank’s life stands for tolerance, diversity and mutual understanding in racial, political and all aspects of society. Frank is truly an inspiration in any time of strife and conflict.”
In 2010, he published “Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story as Told to Jody M. Roy, Ph.D.,” and has been making public appearances promoting his work.
Speaking at Iowa Central Community College Tuesday, Meeink related how he submitted to having his head shaved, to officially become a skinhead. His initiation included learning “the truth” about Jews.
“When these guys were telling me this stuff, it started to unlock,” he said. “I’m learning stuff adults know. I want that power.”
He learned from the Bible, he said, though its stories were warped to reinforce the Skinheads’ hateful views, as in the “true story of Cain.” In his own mind he became a “proud Aryan Christian soldier.”
“God chose you to know the truth now. You better accept it,” he explained. “Every religion does this. Every religion has these groups.”
Meeink had a swastika tattooed on his neck, and the words “Native Philly” on his head. “I didn’t get accolades from the neo-Nazi Christian Identity movement for doing good in school,” he said. “I got accolades for violent deeds, and I liked that.”
Soon, he was placed in juvenile detention. At 16 he started to live underground in Indianapolis. Many states had warrants out on him, but none wanted to pay the cost of transporting him, and so he was abandoned by the system.
In Springfield, Ill., at age 17, Meeink began recruiting teens and started a skinhead cable access show, which he said was a great recruiting tool.
He was charged eventually with kidnapping and beating a fellow skinhead, tried as an adult and given a three-to-five-year sentence. In prison, he said he got along well with Latinos and blacks. When Meeink returned to Philadelphia, his views on race began to change, although he still held on to his hatred of Jews.
“You hate what you don’t understand,” he told his audience. “I did not know any Jewish people in my life, so it was so easy for me to consider all the stereotypes I heard.”
Then he started working in moving furniture for a Jewish antiques dealer whose kindness and support made Meeink ashamed to be a neo-Nazi.
Meeink left the Aryan movement, and began speaking publicly about his experiences.
“We need to start stepping up and saying that is not acceptable,” he said. “We can do this together. It’s about being human beings.”
His page at the Life After Hate foundation website opens with the quote: “Our world is not about the right to own guns or even the US constitution, it’s not about your religion or even what class of people you live with, this world is not about your race or how proud you are of your race…it’s about COMPASSION and LOVE, PERIOD!”