QUAD CITIES — A Quad Cities group is trying to fight back against racism by hearing the experiences of a man who was once part of a racial hate group.
The man, who once identified as a neo-Nazi, became friends with a group of people he once hated, according to WQAD’s Yessenia Chavez.
Signs of love and unity are propped up at Moline’s Trinity Lutheran Church, where dozens gathered on Saturday to talk after racist fliers were spread throughout the Quad Cities in recent months.
“The National Alliance is directly recruiting in the Quad Cities and I think we need to take that seriously. It should make us question who are we as Quad Citians, who do we believe in.”
And who better to learn from than former skinhead Frank Meeink.
“You take this false pride of your heritage and you turn it into hate,” he said.
His abusive home life made him a target for a neo-Nazi skinhead group when he was only 13 years old.
“I thought I was being proud of my heritage by joining this group and suddenly have pride in who I was.”
At 17, he was arrested for kidnapping and assaulting a rival activist.
“Kidnapped and tortured him and videotaped the whole thing,” said Meeink.
He spent three years in prison, where his views changed and he became friends with the people he used to hate.
“We’d be on lockdown for a month or so. As soon as that door popped open, I couldn’t wait to see G and Jello and Tony, I couldn’t wait to see them guys first ’cause we’d sit around with them a lot and play cards or play spades and play basketball,” he said.
Now, Meeink is sharing his story, teaching that communication is key.
“Don’t fuel that hate with more hate. The best thing you do is love your neighbor, you know, the golden rule, treat them as you want to be treated no matter what. Even if they’re neo-Nazis, one of these days you might be the one they come and talk to it about it.”
Meeink helps people understand the other side so they can fight hate at home.
“This is some education to help us break down those barriers to begin to know each other as human beings.”
One Human Family QCA leaders say future plans are in place to meet with members of the National Alliance.