Frank Meeink

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Frank Meeink (born Francis Steven Bertone; May 7, 1975) is a former white supremacist skinhead gang member in the United States. After a three-year stint in prison, he left the racist skinhead movement and now lectures against it.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in South Philadelphia, Meeink lived a violent and unpleasant childhood with a lack of a structured family.[2] In his early life, he had no relationship with his biological father and had an abusive stepfather.[2] Meeink's mother abused drugs and alcohol.[2] As a teenager, Meeink was constantly bullied and taunted at school because his peers considered him to be an outcast. At age thirteen, Meeink was out with his cousin when he discovered the Neo-Nazi Movement.[3] At this point of his life, Meeink felt an atavistic pull toward violence, alcohol, and the notoriety offered by white supremacist gangs.[3] At age fourteen, Meeink shaved his head, a symbol of commitment to the Neo-Nazi Movement.[3] He also stayed down at the Jersey shore in Wildwood for the summer basically living under the boardwalk or staying with anyone he happened to meet. By the age of eighteen he was a well-respected Neo-Nazi leader and recruiter.[3]

Life in prison[edit]

At 17, Meeink was arrested after he had nearly killed a man from a rival skinhead gang and additionally kidnapped another man.[4] Meeink used a gun in the kidnapping, which led to his trial considering him as an adult. Meeink had recorded the attack on videotape.[4] Meeink had been arrested before for smaller crimes,[5] but for these crimes, however, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. Frank Meeink served his prison term in a prison near Springfield, Illinois.[5]

His prison sentence changed Meeink's life. He met people of many different ethnicities. Due to a shared interest in sports, Meeink became friends with many African American prisoners.[4] In games like football and basketball, Meeink earned the respect of fellow African American inmates.[4] Moreover, Meeink felt that the black inmates supported him more than did the skinheads in the prison.[4]

Life after prison[edit]

After getting released from prison, Frank tried to return to his past life, but realized that during his time in prison he had learned that he did not have the same prejudices he had prior to prison.[6] He also continued to suffer from not having a stable home and was almost lost to drug addiction.

The 1998 film, American History X, is loosely inspired by Meeink's life in many ways. The film's main character, Derek, played by Edward Norton, becomes a skinhead after his father is killed by black drug dealers and helps start a Neo-Nazi gang in Los Angeles. The character goes to prison for 3 years (like Meeink), for the murder of a black gang member. In prison, he too forms a bond with an African American inmate, and they share love of basketball, among other things. After he gets out of prison, he decides to leave the Nazi movement he helped form. Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.

After Meeink served his prison sentence, he went back to where he had spent his childhood in South Philadelphia and by helping with the local hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, he created Harmony Through Hockey.[4] This organization was created to give young kids a chance to stay out of the way of violence and have fun while participating.

He also visits schools and gives lectures on his life and how to avoid falling into violence and crime.[6]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A 'Recovering Skinhead' On Leaving Hatred Behind". NPR. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Powell, Caleb. The Nervous Breakdown. 15 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Meeink, Frank. Autobiography of Frank Meeink Students at Ashford University. 29 January 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Powell, Caleb. American History X-treme. 16 March 2010. 27 January 2013
  5. ^ a b A 'Recovering Skinhead' On Leaving Hatred Behind. 7 April 2012. 27 January 2013
  6. ^ a b Meeink, Frank. "A 'Recovering Skinhead' On Leaving Hatred Behind." NPR. NPR, 07 Apr. 2010. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.