Life After Hate
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Life After Hate is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 by Arno Michaelis. Its stated mission is to help people leave the violent far-right, to connect with humanity, and lead compassionate lives. In January 2017, the Obama administration awarded the group $400,000 as part of a grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Countering Violent Extremism Task Force. However, DHS advisor Katharine Gorka and other aides of President Donald Trump decided to discontinue the grant in June 2017. A crowdfunding campaign established after the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally has raised $429,500 to go towards the organization.
Life After Hate was founded in 2010 by Christian Picciolini, Angela King, Arno Michaelis, Antony (Tony) McAleer, Frankie Meeink, and Sammy Rangel after a blog entitled, "Life After Hate" by Michaelis.
From the age of 17, Arno Michaelis was deeply involved in the white power movement. He was a founding member of what became the largest racist skinhead organization in the world, a reverend of self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the race-metal band Centurion, selling over 20,000 CDs. In 2007 Michaelis began writing a reflective memoir and co-founded the online magazine Life After Hate.
Angela King is a co-founder and the Programs Director of Life After Hate. King is an ex-white supremacist who struggled to forgive herself after living years as a neo-nazi. King was raised in Southern Florida by parents she describes as racist and homophobic. King joined hate groups in her early teens after being bullied throughout school and dealing with tensions at home. She found people welcomed her aggressive and violent tendencies. After eight years of being involved with extremist groups, she was imprisoned. In 1988, she was involved in a robbery of an adult video store. After fleeing to Chicago, Illinois, she was arrested in and brought back to Florida to the Federal Detention Center in Miami and sentenced in 1999 to five years. King was transferred from the detention center, to a county jail, on the terms she would give up information on her former gang members.
During her sentence, King met a Jamaican woman who was also imprisoned, who changed her mind about white supremacy. King was released in 2001, determined to begin a new life. Today she is committed to help former neo-Nazis and extremists transition from a life of hate.
Christian Picciolini was a co-founder of Life After Hate, and prominent member in the ex-extremist community. Originally a Chicago native, Picciolini grew up in Blue Island, Illinois. Picciolini was first introduced to neo-Nazi groups at the age of 14. The idea of being involved with a big movement appealed to him, and Picciolini later recalled how becoming a skinhead gave him an identity and purpose. Seven years later, at the age of 22, he began to question his beliefs and membership. After his wife and children left him and he began interacting with people in the groups supremacists hated, he decided to change his life. In 2010, he co-founded Life After Hate, with the mission of helping former neo-Nazis like himself.
ExitUSA is an organization that specializes in disengagement of individuals who were previously involved in hate groups and reintegrating them back into society as full functioning individuals that are capable of obtaining jobs and building healthy relationships within their communities. ExitUSA continues to use social media to help the ex-radicals deny their previous beliefs. "Asked about 'the Trump effect,' Picciolini said the president's election has emboldened the white supremacist movement. Calls to ExitUSA, a program through Life After Hate, have gone up from two or three per week before the election to 15-20 per week, he said."
In partnership with Possible, a company based in Seattle, Life After Hate created a social media business to spread messages of love to combat the hateful comments often displayed. The program uses computers that specialize in detecting hateful tweets. Once detected, #WeCounterHate sends a message to the author of the hateful tweet saying that a dollar will be donated to Life After Hate for every retweet that occurs. After the message is sent, many delete the original post and others will not share it.
When Picciolini was asked for his opinion on the 2017 Charlottesville attack, he said it did not surprise him because he was aware that many extremist groups were actively growing underground. He went on say that most members of extremist groups join as an excuse to act out in anger, not because they believe in the group's ideology.
During the Obama administration, Life After Hate was awarded a $400,000 grant to combat extremist groups. The grant was revoked by the Trump administration due to what Homeland Security explained as a normal review process. A former government official close to the Trump administration, however, reported that the grant was rescinded based on a normal review conducted by the Administration and Homeland Security.
Colin Kaepernick donation
In 2017, Goldie Blumenstyk, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, interviewed Picciolini. He spoke of his past, living as a white supremacist. He continued by saying that young minds, especially college students, should examine unjust and uncommon situations. Picciolini continued that there is a fine line between seeing something and taking action on what they have seen. Picciolini asserted that it is essential to take everything into perspective before drawing a conclusion.
- "History — Life After Hate". Life After Hate. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
- "About," Life After Hate. Retrieved August 15, 2017
- Schulberg, Jessica (August 15, 2017), "Controversial Trump Aide Katharine Gorka Helped End Funding For Group That Fights White Supremacy," Huffington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2017
- Otterson, Joe (August 15, 2017). "Sam Bee Looks to Aid Reformed Neo-Nazi Group Life After Hate in Wake of Charlottesville". Variety.com. Retrieved August 28, 2017.
- Rozsa, Mathew. "Trump's Department of Homeland Security is defunding an anti-Nazi program".
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- "Public Good". publicgood.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- Pashman, Manya Brachear. "Fight against extremism for former neo-Nazi from Chicago ramps up after Trump, Charlottesville". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- Bates, Claire (August 29, 2017). "I was a neo-Nazi. Then I fell in love with a black woman". BBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
- "Providing A Way Forward From Hate - The Story Exchange". thestoryexchange.org. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- "A Former Neo-Nazi Explains Why Hate Drew Him In — And How He Got Out". NPR.org. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Davich, Jerry. "Life After Hate: Former white supremacist recalls recruiting in NWI". Post-Tribune. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- "Recovering from Hate — NOVA Next | PBS". NOVA Next. July 29, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
- "Life After Hate". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- McClure, Jewels. "No more hate". The Observer. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- Nixon, Ron; Sullivan, Eileen (August 15, 2017). "Revocation of Grants to Help Fight Hate Under New Scrutiny After Charlottesville". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- "Life After Hate co-founder says grant rescinded by Trump administration". Retrieved March 22, 2018.
- "March 2017 Donations". March 31, 2017. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
- Thompson, Phil (August 10, 2017). "Chicago activists rally behind Colin Kaepernick". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
- Blumenstyk, Goldie (March 11, 2018). "A Former Neo-Nazi Lays Bare the Campus Strategy of White Supremacists". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 1, 2018.