Former Skinhead Comes to West Bloomfield to Talk About Tolerance, Understanding
The Berman Center for the Performing Arts will host Frank Meeink, a former white supremacist who now campaigns for diversity and tolerance across the country.
He used to be a white supremacist but on Wednesday, Frank Meeink will be in West Bloomfield talking about tolerance, diversity and understanding.
Now a spokesperson for tolerance, Meeink didn't start out that way — in fact, at 13 years old, Meeink was a white supremacist, or a "skinhead", living in south Philadelphia. By 18, Meeink roamed the country as a neo-Nazi recruiter, frequently engaging in gang violence.
Before he was eventually arrested, Meeink had his own cable-access TV show, "The Reich", in Springfield, IL.
"I can't say with certainty how many people we attacked," Meeink writes of his time with a Philadelphia neo-Nazi group dubbed 'Strike Force.' "I rarely went more than a week without beating on somebody, whether SHARPs (Skinhead Against Racial Prejudice) or minorities."
"I craved the power I felt surging through my veins every time I slammed my boot into some dude's face," he added.
While in Illinois, Meeink helped kidnap and beat a man and filmed the entire ordeal. The tape eventually fell into the hands of police and Meeink was arrested.
It was during his year in prison that Meeink befriended two black men — a friendship that ended up changing his life.
"In prison, (Meeink) befriended men he used to think he hated, men of different races," Meeink's website reads. "Out of prison, Meeink tried to rejoin his old skinhead pals, but couldn't bring himself to hate those he knew to be his friends."
After a time working for a Jewish antiques dealer, Meeink defected from the white supremacy movement and had some of his neo-Nazy tattoos removed. After the Oklahoma City bombing, Meeink began working with the Anti-Defamation League and has appeared on several on film and TV.
Harmony Through Hockey launched in partnership with the Philadelphia Flyers, and gives inner city youth the chance to play what is still an expensive sport. Off the ice, the program teaches young athletes discipline, leadership and teamwork.
Wednesday's event is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Detroit Pistons, the Holocaust Memorial Center, the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit and the Jewish News.
Tickets to Wednesday's event costs $11 though anyone is welcome to attend. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.theberman.org or call 248-661-1900.