Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead

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There are startling numbers when it comes to hate groups in America. A report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows there are more than 900 active hate groups in our country, 16 of them call Arizona home.

3TV talked to a man who has been there and tells others not to go.

“I can honestly say, I was like a shaken up soda bottle just waiting for someone to take the top off and just direct whatever way they wanted me to go,” Frank Meeink says. “It was acceptance, protection and all the clichés that get people into gangs. I was that guy and I needed all that in my life.”

Meeink is talking about his time in America's Nazi underground.  It is a world where, as a teenager, he became one of the most well-known skinhead gang leaders.
“I was the guy that people stopped inviting places because I would always talk about my beliefs,” Meeink continues. “There was always a confrontation. I was that guy and I didn't want to be that guy anymore.”

From spending time in prison to overcoming his hatred, Meeink is sharing his story in a new book called Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead.
“You can change no matter what's going on.” Meeink says. “You can stop and re-evaluate.”

Meeink did turn his life around and now speaks on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League to students and various groups across the country about putting a stop to hate.

He says he believes that in order to keep young adults from following in his shoes they must have a good support system in place.

“People need to be active in children's lives, pre-teen, teen,” Meeink says. “They have to have someone there to buffer.”

When it comes to coming into contact with people who do hate, Meeink says do not turn your back on them, communicate with them.
“When you’re sitting with someone and you’re talking and they have these kinds of beliefs, don't say, ‘I don't talk to people like you,’ say 'ok, let's talk about it',” Meeink continues.

During a time where hate groups are still on the rise Meeink says, “What goes around comes around. Whatever I put out will always come back to me.”

“Anger, violence and hatred come back to you. If I put out love and respect, treat my elders with respect, I hold the door for people, I say thank you, I say please, it comes back to me,” Meeink says.