IamA former Neo-Nazi/racist skinhead leader turned peace advocate and author AMA!
My bio: My name is Christian Picciolini. I am a former member of America's first neo-Nazi skinhead gang (Chicago Area Skinheads/Romantic Violence). I was recruited in 1987 when I was 14 years old and stayed in the movement for seven years, until I was 22 in 1996. I held a regional leadership position in the Hammerskin Nation, America's most violent skinhead group. I stockpiled weapons hoping to overthrow the US government, and I was asked to meet with Muammar Gaddafi to form an alliance. In 1996, I decided to leave the vicious movement I helped create because I could no longer reconcile my hateful ideology and thoughts with the empathy I began to feel and the compassion I began to receive from those who I deserved it from the least -- those who I previously hated.
After nearly two decades of self-reflection and atonement, in 2010 I co-founded a nonprofit called Life After Hate to help educate people on issues of far-right extremism and radicalization and to help people disengage from hate groups and to love themselves and accept others, regardless of skin color, religious belief, or sexual preference. I helped launch ExitUSA, a program of Life After Hate, which acts as a beacon and support system to those wishing to leave hate groups.
I published my memoirs, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead last week. My story is a poignant cautionary tale that details my indoctrination when I was barely a teen, a lonely outsider who, more than anything, just wanted to belong. When my mentor went to prison for a vicious hate crime, I stepped forward, and at 18, I was overseeing the most brutal extremist skinhead cells across the country. From fierce street brawls to drunken white power rallies, recruitment by foreign terrorist dictators to riotous white power rock music, I immersed myself in racist skinhead culture, hateful propaganda, and violence.
More info on the new book: http://www.christianpicciolini.com/book/
Edit: THANK YOU FOR YOUR QUESTIONS. THIS AMA IS CLOSED.