'This whole house was transformed;' Former white supremacist sheds hate to help all peopleJune 22, 2012
by Aaron Aupperlee
RIVES TOWNSHIP — Two years ago, he led a white pride march from Loomis Park to downtown Jackson.
Six months ago, he abandoned the white supremacy movement.
On April 15, he was baptized.
Five days later, Chris Simpson sat in the waiting room of a skin and vein clinic, waiting to start the long and painful process of having his tattoos, most replete with Nazi or white pride iconography, removed.
"Hate will blind you to so many things. It will stop you from having so many things," Simpson said. "It consumes you."
Simpson, a 38-year-old garbage man and former Marine, has given up on hate. It is a decision he made for his family, for his wife Misty and his children, 9-year-old Cody, 7-year-old Kayleigh, 5-year-old Nikolaus and the 2-year-old twins, Tyrsson and Aeric. It is a change that has left Simpson feeling better these past six months than he has in the last 12 years.
"He's just a lot happier," said Simpson's wife, Misty. "Happier all the time, when we're out; when we're at home; especially when we're helping people."
"WE DIDN'T PREACH HATE"
The March 21, 2010, white pride march from Loomis Park to E. Michigan Avenue perplexed, angered and offended many.
"This type of ignorance has no place here," read the sign of one protestor at Loomis Park.
Simpson led the march. Nine supports followed him. More than 100 protesters followed them. Simpson said protesters spit at him, threatened him and called him a racist, a bigot, a honkie, a cracker.
"We did what all the other races did. We tried to have a march that said we are proud to be white," Simpson said, recalling the march.
Even without the tattoos, which sprawl down his arms and up his neck, Simpson's presence can be intimidating. At 6 feet and 245 pounds, he fills out clothing with authority. He does not think his tattoos draw notice, but they are hard to miss.
"PURE HATE," is tattooed across his knuckles. His forearms read "BLOOD" and "HONOR." There are four battle axes in the shape of a swastika on his left shoulder with the words "Supreme White Power" over them. There are several wolf's hooks, a Nazi symbol. The iconic lightning bolts associated with Nazi Germany's Schutzstaffel, the SS, are above his right wrist. There's a Nazi war bird on his chest. There are tattoos of a Valkyrie, a Viking, and Thor with swastikas drawn in his helmet. Some of Simpson's tattoos are specific to the white supremacy movement, some to his former devotion to Norse mythology. Some are for his family. Some are "very stupid," he said. Some, like a sun and wizard, are meaningless. Some, like his Marine Corps tattoo and one in memory of his daughter, have deep meaning. There are 42 tattoos, he thinks. An explanation of them all takes several minutes.
Simpson was a member of Battalion 14, a white pride group with supporters in Michigan. The group had a zero tolerance policy on drugs and violence. It did not allow any illegal behavior, Simpson said. The group sought to help white people, donating baskets of formula and supplies to mothers of newborn babies and helping children on dialysis. Battalion 14 bought Christmas gifts for needy families. In their 12 years with various white pride groups, Chris and Misty Simpson estimate they donated more than $15,000.
"All to help people," Simpson said. "We didn't preach hate. ...For us, it was just about taking care of our own."
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