After getting married in 2006 Julie and Bryon Widner, former pillars of the white power movement (she as a member of the National Alliance, he a founder of the Vinlanders gang of skinheads) had worked hard to put their racist past behind them, the Associated Press writes:
They had settled down and had a baby; her younger children had embraced him as a father.
And yet, the past was ever-present — tattooed in brutish symbols all over his body and face: a blood-soaked razor, swastikas, the letters “HATE” stamped across his knuckles.
Wherever he turned Widner was shunned — on job sites, in stores and restaurants. People saw a menacing thug, not a loving father. He felt like an utter failure.
Unfortunately, removing the extensive facial tattoos proved different and too expensive.
In desperation, Julie did something that once would have been unimaginable. She reached out to a black man whom white supremacists consider their sworn enemy.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins runs an anti-hate group called One People’s Project based in Philadelphia. The 43-year-old activist is a huge thorn in the side of white supremacists, posting their names and addresses on his website, alerting people to their rallies and organizing counter protests. […]
Jenkins suggested that Widner contact T.J. Leyden, a former neo-Nazi skinhead Marine who had famously left the movement in 1996, and has promoted tolerance ever since. More than anyone else, Leyden understood the revulsion and self-condemnation that Widner was going through. And the danger.
“Hide in plain sight,” he advised. “Lean on those you trust.”
Most importantly, Leyden told him to call the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“If anyone can help,” he said, “it’s those guys.”
A Skinhead’s Story: Bryon Widner and ‘Erasing Hate’
Erasing Hate — Documentary: MSNBC goes inside the world of this former skinhead “pit bull” as he undergoes painful treatments to remove the physical representation of the hate he had exhibited to the world for more than half his life. [Amazon.com]
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