Former skinhead's message of change and redemption

You know that dark side of human nature most of us keep under control. But Frank Meeink let it out, with a vengeance.

The skinhead lifestyle has been dramatized by Hollywood, but Frank Meeink lived it.

Action News met him at what was literally his old stomping ground, South Street.

"I was nothing but a thug, an egotistical maniac," Meeink said.

15 years ago Meeink and his fellow skinheads terrorized South Street and other neighborhoods.

They were part of a swelling movement of Nazi inspired young people. They shaved their heads, stomped on people with their black work boots, and reveled in an orgy of violence and hate.

"I felt powerful. I remember when there were times when people were scared of us. I remember that look in their eyes and them having this fear. And I loved that," Meeink said.

Meeink showed us what used to be known as Skinhead Alley near 6th and Bainbridge streets. It's where he and his friends would get tanked up on booze and drugs before heading out looking for victims.

Action News interviewed Meeink back in 1994 after his cousin was arrested for assaulting an elderly neighbor.

He was all attitude and Nazi tattoos back then and was about to embark on a cross country odyssey of hate fueled violence.

"We kidnapped a guy in Illinois and we really beat this guy. No mercy. And we videotaped it," Meeink said.

Meeink was numb, soulless and lost. He would eventually end up in a mental institution after trying to kill himself.

He began to understand where the hatred came from and became determined to change.

He got a big push from one man, Barry Morrison of the Anti-Defamation League. Morrison convinced Meeink to share his compelling story of redemption with others.

"We feel he's had a tremendous impact. He just finished a multi-city tour under our auspices. He spoke to law enforcement officials. He spoke to kids. He spoke to donors. He spoke to every group imaginable," Morrison said.

Meeink is now hustling harmony, instead of hate, on television shows, on radio, and soon in a documentary that was being filmed as we spoke with him. He now focuses on what makes us the same, not our differences.

And his message to kids is simple: "What goes around comes around. Whatever I put out is always going to come back to me," Meeink said.

It's a message Meeink will share with 1,000 Philadelphia high school kids at the Wells Fargo Center along with the Philadelphia Flyers Monday morning.

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