In the aftermath of the November election, Raw Story cataloged hundreds of Donald Trump-related incidents of violence on behalf of his supporters against people of color, women, children, Muslims and others.
Upworthy released an interview on Facebook with a former leading white supremacist, who said that he and others were often instructed to act out and hurt people as a means to defend themselves.
According to the interview, Christian Picciolini doesn’t give specifics on what happened post-election, but after joining a skinhead band he got a jolt of “power” that he felt like he was “lacking” in his everyday life. He’d been bullied and kicked out of four high schools, but those he met helped him find hope.
“[The band] told us to go out and hurt people because we needed to protect ourselves and, in fact, we did do that. We did go out and attack people because we believed that was the right thing to do,” he says in the interview.
He shows photos of himself at the Dachau concentration camp doing the Nazi salute, which he admits is something “highly illegal.” After World War II, the salute was outlawed and doing one is punishable by up to three years in prison.
“It’s gone from national socialist, to neo-Nazi, to white supremacist, to white nationalist, to now we’re using the term ‘alt-right,'” he explained as the evolution of the right-wing.
After his son was born, Picciolini opened a record store that promoted white nationalist propaganda. He began meeting with people of color and LGBT people and noted that their compassion helped shift his views. He never felt like he deserved such kindness from those groups, but it is one of the main things that helped him to change.
Thanks to the “normalization of racism,” Picciolini explained it’s rare to see neo-Nazis with shaved heads and swastika clothing and flag. Most live normal lives, go to college and dress in respectable ways like a suit and tie to blend into everyday society.