Former white supremacist explains mentality of the extremist group

Former white supremacist explains mentality of the extremist group

By Annie Scholz. CREATED Aug 8, 2012 - UPDATED: Aug 8, 2012

OAK CREEK- TODAY'S TMJ4 goes "behind the hate" with a man once caught up in white supremacist culture whose turned his life around.

Arno Michaels admits he was once no different than Wade Page, filled with hate and caught up in a white supremacist culture that captivated him with violence.

"Every waking moment of your day you spend in fear," described Michaels.  "I left people for dead and i don't know what happened."

Michaels says the mentality behind it, and what happened in Oak Creek Sunday, is simple.

"When you see people who aren't white, they're a threat to you," said Michaels.

Michaels no longer believes that, and now runs an organization called Life After Hate.

"It's very important to understand the reason why I was able to get out is because people who I claimed to hate gave me acts of kindness," explained Michaels.

Michaels says that made it impossible for him to hold on to the rage that made him hurt people.  He wishes Page would have taken the same path to peace, but is hopeful others one day will.

"If we don't forgive, we are perpetuating the hurt of this incident and it's the Sikh community that has set the most amazing example of this strength and courage," argued Michaels.

Misty Cook, Page's ex-girlfriend, also has ties to white supremacy groups.  But she told the LA Times she wants the focus to be on the victims, not her.

Michaels told TODAY'S TMJ4 that while that may seem insincere, he hopes it's the turning point for her that he had in his life.