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Hate crimes on the rise in Wisconsin; locals work to combat it

Posted at 7:08 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 11:18:26-05

MILWAUKEE — For Arno Arr Michaelis IV and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, their friendship was forged out of tragedy and through forgiveness.

Growing up, Arno was a white supremacist for 7 years, he changed his ways when he became a single father and the people he claimed to hate treated him with kindness and love.

"Every time that happened it indicated how wrong I was in a really powerful way and it made it difficult for me to keep that hate present and flowing," said Arno.

Arno met Pardeep after the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek. Pardeep's father along with six innocent lives were taken. The shooter was a member of a hate gang Arno helped form many years ago.

Through the tragedy, Serve 2 Unite was created. The two now travel the nation speaking on their experiences. They hope their story will help change the narrative around hate.

"Let's just listen to each other and understand one another. The big message is, we can heal from this and that’s exactly what we are doing," said Pardeep.

"For people who are our perpetuating hate, I would say there is a better way to live your life. You don’t have to be terrified of the world. If you love the world it will love you back," said Arno.

Despite their hard work, the two said we are still living in divisive times.

Over at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, they too are feeling the impacts of hate.

"It is non stop. People are nervous and they should be nervous. We have to do something. We have to stand up for ourselves and other people," said Elana Kahn the Director of JCRC.

According to an annual audit, anti-Semitic incidents have increased over the past 5 years. The 2018 audit shows there has been an almost 21 percent increase incidents from last year and a 166 percent increase in vandalism.

"We must all be vigilant against this rise of hate," said Kahn.

Kahn said there is an under reporting of hate crimes all across the nation. According to Milwaukee Police, there have been 5 reported hate crime incidents in 2017 and 5 reported incidents in 2018.

Kahn said the way we combat this type of rhetoric is through education, outreach, and compassion.

"We have to educate our own children and community about identifying anti-Semitism and responding to it," said Kahn.

Arno and Pardeep have written a book together called "The Gift of Our Wounds." To find out more on the book click here.

Follow Arno's and Pardeep journey on Twitter: @mylifeafterhate and @pardeepkaleka