Former skinhead leader Frank Meeink said, "Violently or destructively -- it's how I work."
Meeink is a former neo-Nazi racist skinhead leader who once proudly wore a swastika tattoo on his neck. Meeink says it was an escape from bullying and desire for acceptance that first lured him to the world of white supremacy and violence at 14 years old.
He said, "When I was in the movement, you don't get accolades or atta-boys for doing good at school, doing good at work. That's not what you get. You get accolades and atta-boys for doing violence, for preaching hate."
Meeink says his days of crime and preaching hate are now over. He's authored a book and calls himself a recovering skinhead. Meeink's in town sharing his story of lifestyle change with law enforcement and community groups across Houston this week, knowing discussions about white supremacist groups are high across Texas and the country right now.
"I mean, I'm not shocked by the communities concerned when there's prosecutors being killed. Absolutely not, I think there is a concern there," Meeink said.
Just this month the Department of Public Safety released its annual Texas gang threat assessment. It shows the prison based white supremacist group Aryan Brotherhood of Texas remains one of the top three most significant gangs working the greater Houston region, behind Tango Blast and Mexican Mafia.
Meeink says he's not surprised how the criminal enterprise is spreading.
"We have two million people in prison, of course we are going to have more prison gangs," Meeink said. "And these prison gangs are going to have to start lashing out because their businesses go outside of the prison walls."
Meeink says he's received death threats from hate groups for changing his life and now speaking out against hate. He says he believes communities can help influence others to change through empathy.
The Anti-Defamation League tracks cases of hate and bigotry and shares that information with local police.
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