Former neo-Nazi speaks at Quad Cities anti-hate discussion

MOLINE, Illinois– Dozens of Quad Citians gathered at Moline Trinity Lutheran Church to speak out against hate in the community. The gathering comes after ...

MOLINE, Illinois-- Dozens of Quad Citians gathered at Moline Trinity Lutheran Church to speak out against hate in the community.

The gathering comes after racist fliers were spread throughout the Quad Cities 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. What do we believe in?" said Reverand Hendricks.

The group One Human Family QCA held an anti-hate symposium called "Hate We Shall Overcome."

A former neo-nazi Frank Meeink was the keynote speaker and talked about his involvement with the skinhead group.

"I thought I was being proud of my heritage by joining group and suddenly I had pride in who I was," said Meeink.

Meeinks was originally from Philadelphia. His violent past and neglected childhood left him isolated and angry. This gave the neo-Nazi gangs a chance to fill his mind with their white supremacy ideology.

At 15 years-old he got a swastika tattoo on his neck and began to recruiting members for their group.

"When I started recruiting for the group I knew if a person had a bad home life they were almost definite to get in," said Meeinks.

In his later teens he ended up in Illinois and started forming his own group. At the age of 17 he was arrested for the kidnapping and assault of a rival activist.

"We kidnapped and tortured him and video taped the whole thing," said Meeinks.

He served three years in prison. During his time he became friends with inmates from different backgrounds and ethnicities. That's where he became more open-minded.

"We’d be on lock down 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," said Meeinks.

After prison Meeinks met many others who helped him get rid of his neo-Nazi ideology.

That led him to have open discussions with people from across the country. And now he's spreading his story and how people can overcome hate.

Meeinks says the best way to combat hate is to not fuel it and open up a dialogue.

"The best thing you do is love you’re neighbor you know the golden rule, treat them as you want to be treated. No matter what even if they’re neo-Nazis one day you might be the one you come and talk to it about it," said Meeinks.

He says getting to the root of the problem and educating others will open up perspectives.

Reverand Hendricks says it's something the group is working on. And he says they are putting plans in place to meet with National Alliance.

"Our community is a welcoming community of love, we value you all of our members everyone in the community and I do reach out even to the ones in the National Alliance.