Kentucky Tattoo Shop Offers To Cover Up Hate And Gang Symbols For Free
A tattoo shop in Kentucky is offering free cover-ups for anyone with a hate or gang symbol tattoo.
Jeremiah Swift and Ryun King from the Gallery X Art Collective have made the gesture in a bid to unite communities across Kentucky amid the Black Lives Matter movement, which is calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.
While the pair say that having ‘anything hate-related’ is ‘completely unacceptable’, they appreciate that many people will have got the tattoos when they were a lot younger, and have been left with the lifelong mistake stuck on their body ever since.
‘It’s definitely a long overdue change,’ King told CNN, adding, ‘We just want to make sure everybody has a chance to change.’
Gallery X Art Collective first posted about the cover-ups on Facebook two weeks ago, and it’s already had around 30 requests come in.
One of the people we got was a man with both of his forearms completely covered in hate symbols, absolutely everywhere. How is this man going to interact with society with the mistakes he made 10, 15, 20 years ago?
We also got a guy with a giant swastika who said he has never taken his shirt off in front of his kids. I like seeing that. I like seeing people want to change themselves for the better. That swells me full of emotions.
The first free cover-up was for Jennifer Tucker, a mother of two who had a small Confederate flag tattooed on her ankle when she was 18 years old.
The 36-year-old said:
I went to a school where there wasn’t a single black person. Our community had no black families, they would literally run them out every time one moved in. Everyone in my school flew rebel flags and had rebel flag tattoos and I bandwagoned and got the tattoo. It was a horrible thing to do.
It wasn’t until after high school – when she moved to another city – that Tucker became involved in peaceful anti-racism movements designed to unite communities and fight against racial injustice.
So as soon as her friend sent her a screenshot of the Facebook post, Tucker jumped at the chance and got booked in straight away.
I just needed to get that symbol of hatred off of my body. Every time I attend a group meeting or protest, I make a new friend. And I don’t want to be standing next to them with a Confederate flag on my leg.
On Tuesday, June 9, Tucker travelled 40 minutes to get the tattoo covered up by an image of Pickle Rick from Rick and Morty.
Speaking of her new ink, she said: ‘It feels so amazing, it’s life-changing. I knew I had to do it, to be an example for other people who were in the same position. There’s not a whole lot I can do, but this is something I can do to spread love, not hate.’
What an amazing gesture.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk