Thursday, August 4, 2011

"ERASING HATE" featured in the Pasadena Weekly

by Carl Kozlowski
When Bryon Widner started getting tattoos as a teenager in Albuquerque, he never imagined that he would someday be portrayed on national television as a notorious example of racial hatred. At the time, he was just a high school dropout living on the streets who had fallen in with local skinhead gangs because they offered him a sense of family and a place to live.

But as he grew out of his teens and drifted through his 20s, with only rage and fellow gang members to guide him, Widner became disenchanted with the hate that surrounded him. By the time he decided to make a real break out of the white supremacist underground culture at age 30, he’d wasted 16 years of his life on a cause he now despised.

With his arms, legs, chest and face covered in swastikas and other flashy symbols of hate — including the actual word “hate” tattooed across one set of knuckles in capital letters, and a giant arrow splashed across his face as a symbol that he would be ready to kill or die for white supremacy — it was impossible to find work. So when the Southern Poverty Law Center offered to help Widner remove his most visible tattoos, he jumped at what he saw as a chance to start his life over.

The journey he underwent as he removed dozens of tattoos and escaped the white supremacy movement along with his wife and kids has been depicted in a new documentary, “Erasing Hate,” by Burbank filmmaker Bill Brummel. While the hour-long version is airing on MSNBC, the feature-length version — currently making the rounds of film festivals in search of a theatrical distribution deal — will be released on DVD this fall.

The film will also be screened at 5 p.m. Saturday at All Saints Church in Pasadena, with a post-screening discussion led by Brummel. The local screening will give the film a chance to resonate with area residents eager to prevent similar groups from spreading into Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley.

Read the rest here. And do plan to join us on Saturday for the screening of this important and moving film. 5pm in the Forum. $5 donation requested. For more information call 626.796.1172

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