Tattoo artists in Mississippi are working to cover up racist and gang related ink for free.
“I had a pair of boots,” said T.M. Garret, pointing to a faded area on his left hand. “I used to be a skin head back in Germany. After I changed, that tattoo was still there.”
Garret told Local 24 News he was able to remove the tattoo through laser treatment, but it wasn’t cheap.
He said not everyone could afford to remove a tattoo through that method but said everyone should be able to cover something they’re no longer want.
“I formed the non-profit C.H.A.N.G.E.,” he said. “It stands for care, hope, awareness, need, give, and education.”
Garret and his organization partnered with artists working at Sick Side Tattoo & Body Piercing Studio in Lake Horn, Mississippi.
Together they’re working to cover up racist and gang related tattoos through the Erase The Hate” campaign.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” he said. “Sometimes people already have changed in their mind, but the ink is still there. What we’re doing is helping people by getting rid of that ink.”
The tattoo parlor will work with an individual to block out the old tattoo with a new design.
Pastor Ray Johnson was one of the first people to take advantage of the campaign.
He met with tattoo artist Drew Darby who drew up a cross tattoo to cover his former gang name tattoo ‘Dough Boy.’
“I can shade the clouds in to cover up what you’ve got here,” Darby told Johnson during the initial consultation. “I’ll draw it custom. We can change the cross, the wings, whatever you want to change but something along those guidelines.”
Johnson told Local 24 he has been living with the tattoo since the 1990’s.
“It’s more negative than it is positive,” he said. “It’s just been a mark on me and I want to cover it up.”
“His entire tattoo will be finished in two weeks,” said Darby. “I think everyone should be proud of the ink they have and I’m glad I get to be a part of this.”
“I’m very grateful,” said Johnson. “I think it’s a good deal, to be able to get rid of those things that are a negative offense to the world and also to people, I think it’s a great opportunity to bring people together as well and that’s what this campaign is doing.”
People looking to have their gang or racist tattoos covered up are encouraged to call Sick Side for an appointment at (662) 342-6767.