Oregon man disavows white supremacy, spreads message of change - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon man disavows white supremacy, spreads message of change

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Tensions have been running high across the country following a deadly attack in Charlottesville, Virginia where alt-right groups and counter protesters clashed.

The events highlighted a resurgence of neo-Nazi and white supremacists groups coming from out of the shadows and on the streets. The chaos in the streets also showed a split over political ideology, who is right and who is wrong.

“It’s pretty much a war inside the United States,” said Jason Downard.

Downard told FOX 12 Wednesday that he was a member of the white supremacist movement. He says he got involved when he was sent to prison in 2009.

“The respect they showed me and how they cared for me, and we always looked out for each other inside the prison system,” Downard said.

But when he got out of prison, life was a bit different.

Downard says he was attacked in Portland and those he looked to for help were not there. That was the beginning of the end for a life he used to lead.

Downard says he appeared before several judges facing different crimes.

It was when he was given the message to straighten up or spend the rest of his life in jail that Downard says he turned a corner and started down a path towards a different life.

“It is not who I am anymore, people can change,” Downard said.

The 27-year old says watching the events unfold in Charlottesville have been hurtful. He says it has been troubling to see how the U.S. has changed in the last year.

Downard adds he can’t sit by idle and watch.

A year ago he found a group called Life After Hate. They offer help and support to those wanting to leave the white supremacists movement and lead a different life.

“You don’t have to feel like you are alone, and if I need to rely on and talk to somebody I can reach out to someone at Life After Hate and talk to them,” said Downard.

He is speaking out, sharing his experience with the hope of spreading a different message, one that will bring the country closer together rather than to divide it more deeply.

“We show each other support and love to one another, we don’t judge,” Downard said.

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