TRIGGER WARNING: VIOLENCE
I interviewed someone about his horrific history as a former white supremacist. I was eager to learn what made him change and what that journey has looked like. I know his transformation was a significant one. To preserve anonymity I’ve refrained from disclosing his name and how I know him. This is to keep him and his family members safe from retaliation.
Tell me about when you were younger.
My dad started punching me when I was seven. He would just beat me for a while without stopping. I grew up in California.
When I was 14 I was kicked out of a high school then started going to another school that was primarily Mexican. Myself and another guy used to get jumped by them daily because we didn’t know how to shut up. That’s when I was approached by a guy who was out of high school. He began teaching me about the skinhead movement in 1988. I joined one of the biggest skinhead gangs [name of gang has been removed for safety]. I got heavily involved. It was bad to the point of drivebys at my parent’s house.
This is when my parents found a gun under my bed and a half pound of weed. They shipped me off to a drug rehab. I thought I was getting out and going home, but they left me for years. I had no idea my parents weren't gonna pick me up. I waited and had all my shit packed all excited, in walks two cops said my name. They dropped me off at a placement and turned me over to the state. I then went to placement for foster care and that wasn’t working for me, so I left and went to juvie. They tried to send me to Utah but I ran. All this time the skinheads were sending me money to get out. These guys take kids with horrible home lives. Like me, always looking for a way out. Once I got involved no one fucked with me. Everyone was afraid of me.
Between all of that, I didn’t really have contact with friends for two years and in the meantime I met new friends in juvie and Cali Youth Authority. 85% are dead now and the other 15% are doing life in person. Me and another guy are the only ones alive or free from our clique. We were pretty rough.
The guy who brought me into the gang didn’t like kids just joining to join, he wanted them to know why. I read Hitler’s diaries, a lot of books about Adolf and martyrs from the movement. We got convinced the Jews were no good. We believed it. They brainwash you.
We start putting in work as youngsters, whatever you were told to do. Burnt some dwellings down.
How did this progress?
I know you’re not going to like this, but we used to target gay people. We'd go out gay bashing, stomp them. Thought it was the coolest thing. Until one time we were gonna beat up some gay guys. No one jumped out of the bushes but me. I came out and one of the gay guys picked me up, flipped me around, and pile drived me.
If we saw a white girl walking with a black guy we'd beat them up. I believed this in my head until 2003. I got into it pretty heavy. It was bad for years and got pretty serious. We were doing things you'd read about in the paper. I won't say too much shit that we did, but I'm still paying back karma.
As I got older I moved up the ranks. I was about 4 down from the top and they had us start our own gang. 16 of us in total. We took on the Hell’s Angels in California, took on some pretty nasty things we couldn’t win, were told to leave them alone or we'd all die. I went to prison- drug sales and making fake ids to defraud the government. There were also a lot of GTAs (grand theft autos). Violence. I went to prison a bunch of times. I was locked up half my adult life.
I started changing my beliefs to where I didn't want to hurt another race, i just didn't want them having kids with my people. I turned into a white nationalist. I got into my white separatist thing. I didn't believe in KKK
We were horrible. We were dirty, nasty, didn't give a fuck. I went to a skinhead movement Aryan fest. I got thrown out because I beat up a dude from the KKK. I never liked them.
What was the turning point?
There wasn’t exactly one turning point, I just knew what I was doing was wrong. There was one situation, though: in 2005, my neighbor who was a black dude we had vocational welding together. We were tight. He had just done 27 years and was ready for parole. He goes “you hate me cause I'm black, skin?" I said "I ain't no skin." It just came out.
I don't know what happened. Something clicked. As I got older I knew I wasn't down with what was happening. I met people of color and I liked them. I couldn't be a racist when I felt like that. This guy was my buddy and he said "you gotta get out of that shit dude."
I woke up. Grew up. Life's too short to hate everyone. Especially when the very people you're working with (white supremacists) are the biggest scumbags in the world. I didn't get out the easy way. I had to check in and talk to people when I got out. My best friend and two guys smashed me.
What about your family now, do they know the extent of what happened?
My wife, girlfriend at the time, stayed with me my very last prison stint. I was in there for three years and she waited for me. She had no idea how bad things were. She thought I was sandblasting for a job, but I was selling meth. I had a hotel room she didn't know I had it. Now things are different, she knows my past.
As far as my kids go, they don't know a lot. They don't know I've been in prison yet. They’re 9 and 11. Families can hide shit, but I think my kids need to know everything. I need them to know how stupid it was and what happened.
I tell them now that white supremacists are horrible. I try to explain to my son when he got into history stuff that Hitler was a stupid fucking sick demented fool. My son knows it, what he did, slaughtered millions.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I’m in the process of getting involved with speaking to kids at juvenile delinquency centers. I want to talk to them about gangs in general and how they shouldn’t do it. They don't need to look to the older guy and think he's great, he's not. If i could deter one kid from doing it, I'd be happy.