Grim But Necessary Reading.
“As a teenager, Frank Meeink was one of the most well-known skinhead gang members in the country. He had his own public access talk show, called The Reich, he appeared on Nightline and other media outlets as a spokesman for neo-Nazi topics, and he regularly recruited members of his South Philadelphia neighborhood to join his skinhead gang.
At 18, Meeink spent several years in prison for kidnapping one man and beating another man senseless for several hours. While in prison, Meeink says, he was exposed to people from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds and started reevaluating his own racist beliefs. His transformation solidified, he tells Dave Davies, after the Oklahoma City bombing, when he saw the iconic photo of a firefighter cradling a lifeless girl in his arms.
“I felt so evil. Throughout my life, even when I was tattooed up and wanting to be a skinhead, I felt like maybe I was bad on the outside. But I felt good on the inside,” he says. “And that day it switched. I felt OK on the outside, but I felt so evil inside. I had no one to talk to. … So I went to the FBI and … I told them my story. I said ‘I don’t have any information on anybody, but I just need to let you know what it’s like.’ And of course they wanted to listen, because the Oklahoma City bombing had happened.”
The FBI recommended that Meeink contact the Anti-Defamation League — which he did. He now regularly lectures to students about racial diversity and acceptance on behalf of the ADL, and he has written a memoir about his past, called Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead. “