Former Neo-Nazi Group Leader Sits Down with Jada Pinkett Smith'' After a 'Lot of Years Spewing Hate'

"You feel really stupid, ignorant, and then you want to figure out 'How can I fix this?' " Jeff Schoep said of leaving his a Neo-Nazi group while appearing on Red Table Talk Red Table Talk | He Led America's Biggest Neo-Nazi Group For 27 Years
Photo: Red Table Talk/FaceBook

A man who led one of the largest Neo-Nazi groups in the United States for nearly 30 years is speaking out.

In a clip of the latest installment of Red Table Talk, Jeff Schoep shared what he experienced after leaving the controversial organization.

When asked by co-host Adrienne Banfield Norris (mother of host Jada Pinkett Smith) how long he was a member of the white supremacist organization, Schoep said, "27 years total. A lifetime, a lifetime."

"That's a lot of years spewing hate," Banfield Norris replied before asking Schoep how he became a reformed Neo-Nazi.

"It was people that helped me. When I first left –– I call it my decompression period ... " he said as he explained that during that time his brain felt like it was shrinking.

Continued Schoep: "You're just like a sponge almost, because you're going 'Why did I stay so long? Why did I do this?' And you feel really stupid, ignorant, and then you want to figure out 'How can I fix this?' "

In 2020, Schoep, who previously led the National Socialist Movement, said he wanted to help other members follow in his footsteps and leave, according to The New York Times.

RELATED VIDEO: Jada Pinkett Smith Realized She Has 'Some Anxiety' from Seeing Daughter Willow Struggle

"I have that skill set where I brought all these people to the movement," he said. "That skill set was put to the wrong use. I feel a sense of responsibility to do something meaningful to fix that."

He first joined when he was 18, later becoming a commander within three years, according to the Times.

As for what inspired his change of heart, Schoep said that it wasn't a major event but instead a snowball of small life experiences such as a Black man fixing his car and a Jewish woman bringing Schoep into her home.

"Imagine waking up every day and being pissed off at the world," he said. "You just become distrusting of everything. It's a really negative way to live."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Schoep left the movement in the summer of 2019 and made his first appearance at the Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob in front of an audience of Jewish people, six months later, according to The Jewish News.

Two months after the moment, he recalled, "The people were so kind and forgiving and loving. I don't think I ever received so many hugs in my entire life until I got there."

Related Articles