Christian Picciolini rose from recruit to leader of a Neo-Nazi gang in Chicago in the late 1980s – early 1990s. Christian and his white supremacist colleagues grabbed headlines and wreaked havoc in the Windy Cindy, rhetorically and physically attacking Jews and people of color. They even made an infamous appearance on the Jerry Springer Show, creating more than the usual chaos. Although a fearsome leader, Christian had doubts about Neo-Nazi ideology throughout his time in the group.
By 1994, he was ready to break away and forge his own independent path, much to the dismay (and anger) of his former friends in the movement. Christian eventually graduated from high school and college, while trying to express his regrets to the some of the people that he hurt along the way. He went on to be a co-founder of the anti-racist group Life After Hate in 2011.
He is also the author of the books Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead and White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement – and How I Got Out. Christian has become something of a “go to” guy on the Far Right for the mainstream media, having appeared on Democracy Now, Face the Nation, I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman, Megyn Kelly’s Today, CNN and many others.
Christian Picciolini spoke with KGNU’s Angela Palermo what life circumstances made him ripe for recruitment into a Neo-Nazi group, the appeal of the Far Right extremism to alienated youth, his much feared leadership in the movement, what changes/challenges in his life lead to his break from Neo-Nazism ideology, his years of depression following the break from the Neo-Nazi/white supremacist movement, the founding and work of Life After Hate, his two books, and what he sees as the path forward for the anti-hate, anti-Far Right movement in the future.