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Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead

The Frank Meeink Story as Told to Jody M. Roy, Ph.D.

Frank Meeink; Jody M. Roy, Ph.D.; Introduction by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Mar 2010


Trade Paper

$15.95 US
($20.00 CAN)
978-0-9790188-2-4 | 9780979018824
0-9790188-2-X | 097901882X

316 pp

36 per carton



Personal Memoirs

Spring 2010

Imprint Rights: P: USC~D: W

Title Rights: USC

Product Safety: Mfgr warrants no warnings apply

Published by Hawthorne Books

Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead is Frank Meeink’s raw telling of his descent into America’s Nazi underground and his ultimate triumph over drugs and hatred. Frank’s violent childhood in South Philadelphia primed him to hate, while addiction made him easy prey for a small group of skinhead gang recruiters. By 16 he had become one of the most notorious skinhead gang leaders on the East Coast and by 18 he was doing hard time. Teamed up with African-American players in a prison football league, Frank learned to question his hatred, and after being paroled he defected from the white supremacy movement and began speaking on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League. A story of fighting the demons of hatred and addiction, Frank's downfall and ultimate redemption has the power to open hearts and change lives.

Chapter One: The Confessional

On the morning of April 19, 1995, I squeezed past the meat counter of a corner deli, grabbed a pre-wrapped hoagie, and made my way to the cash register. The clerk was glued to a small television set behind the counter.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Somebody blew up a building.”

“No shit? Where?”

“Oklahoma City.”

Within minutes of the blast, the world was huddled around television sets. Even me and my fellow drug dealers abandoned our corner at Second and Porter to follow the story. We piled into the front bedroom of a ratty South Philly rowhouse.

“What kind of an asshole does that?” somebody asked.

Little conversations erupted around the room.

“Youse think it’s terrorists?”

“Like in Israel?”

“No fucking way. That shit don’t happen here.”

“It happened in New York.”

“This ain’t the same thing. It’s fucking Oklahoma.”

“I still say it’s terrorists.”

“I think it’s some fucking nut job.”

“I bet I know who did it,” I said.

The room fell silent.

The Second and Porter boys had taken me in a few months earlier when not a lot of people wanted anything to do with me. I hadn’t seen most of them since grade school, but they accepted me back anyhow. I was one of them. Like every other dude on that corner, I was a South Philly Catholic cocktail. I was a little darker than the pure Irish guys, a little taller than the full Italians, and a lot skinnier than everybody except the kooksters who’d given up food for cocaine. But to the Second and Porter boys, I was still Frankie Meeink from the old neighborhood. They overlooked everything else. Or maybe they never really believed it until the day of the Oklahoma City Bombing, when they heard me say, “I bet I know who did it.”

For the first time that day, everyone turned away from the television. Every dude in that room stared at me as if he was really seeing me for the first time since I’d reappeared in their lives. I felt their eyes lock on the five-inch swastika tattooed on my neck. I glanced nervously at my hands. The tattoos on my knuckles accused me: “S-K-I-N-H-E-A-D.”

Finally, someone cautiously asked, “Who?”

“I ain’t saying I can name the name, but youse just watch: it’s going to end up being somebody tied to the movement.”

I knew. Deep in my gut, from the second the story broke, I knew. I recognized the plot. It’s from The Turner Diaries, the “novel” by Andrew MacDonald. The thing is, Andrew MacDonald isn’t the author’s real name; his real name is William Pierce. And, in 1995, William Pierce was still head of the National Alliance, and his book was still at the top of the white supremacy movement’s “must read” list. When the cops finally apprehended Timothy McVeigh, they found copies of pages from The Turner Diaries in his car. My copy was tucked away in the back of a closet. I’d read it cover-to-cover during my skinhead years, and while I read it, I wanted to blow something up. And I knew how, thanks to that book and others like it. I’d just never had the right opportunity.

The other Second and Porter boys wandered back to the corner later that night, but I stayed in front of the television. I didn’t leave the house for days. I barely even got high. I just sat there, flipping channels, catching all the angles on the story, unable to look away. One image seared itself into my mind: a firefighter carrying a bleeding baby girl out of the rubble. Every time I saw that picture, I thought of my little girl, the little girl I hadn’t seen in more than a year, and I wept.
As the body count mounted, I felt so fucking evil. For the first time ever, my victims haunted me. The kid in Springfield desperately trying to catch his own blood so I wouldn’t make good on my threat to shoot him if he stained my carpet. The unarmed gay men I beat with an Orangina bottle. The college student I held down so another skinhead could pry a hammer from his head. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people. How many of my victims had wished for death while I brutalized them?
Once, when I had glanced down at the bloody face of a college student, I had been seized by a horrible realization: “He could be my Uncle Dave,” my childhood hero, the guy I could’ve been, should’ve been, if everything in my whole fucking life had been different. But I’d shaken that thought off the second it flashed across my mind, and I kicked that poor college kid more, harder. I laughed at his suffering. I attacked others that same night, and so many others in the years that followed. And for years, for five fucking years, I believed I was fighting a holy war. I was raining down God’s justice on an evil world. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols believed that, too. That belief killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. Nineteen of them were innocent little kids, like my baby girl. I couldn’t shake that. I couldn’t bear that.
I knew if I didn’t talk to someone I was going to lose my mind. But I had no one to talk to. No one in my life outside the white supremacy movement understood what the movement was about. No one in my life outside the movement had a clue how far in I’d been. My parents, grandparents, my buddies on Second and Porter, none of them knew the truth about me: for five years, I would have blown up a building.

It took almost a week to figure out who I could talk to without needing to translate every term, who probably knew enough about me to believe me.

The lobby was impressive, but the offices were plain. A framed photo of an Eagles fullback stood proudly on a table. I’d expected wanted posters.

“How can I help you?” asked the clean-cut kid at the front desk. He looked like he’d probably played football in high school. I watched his eyes methodically survey my tattoos like he’d been taught at Quantico.

“I need to talk to somebody.”

“What’s this in reference to?”

“Oklahoma City.”

Within about a minute, I was sitting on a metal chair in a windowless room. Unlike the kid working the front desk, the agent across from me in the interrogation room was no rookie. His dark, wavy hair framed the wrinkles cutting into his forehead. From the looks of the bags under his eyes, he hadn’t slept since the truck exploded.

“Do you know Timothy McVeigh?” he asked.


He came at the same question from different angles until he was satisfied I really did not know McVeigh.

“I’m not here to rat nobody out,” I said.

“Then why are you here?”

“I didn’t know where else to go.”

“For what?”

“I didn’t know Timothy McVeigh.” I paused for a really long time trying to find the right words. Then I said, “For a really long time, I wanted to be Timothy McVeigh.”

I confessed to that agent like he was a priest.