“Let’s get that s— off your body," Gallery X Art Collective said on Facebook

By Rachel DeSantis
June 15, 2020 11:16 AM
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A tattoo shop in Kentucky is offering to cover up any racist or hate-related tattoo for free in a move the artists say is meant to help people change “for the better.”

Gallery X Art Collective in Murray announced the deal last week on Facebook, and said that anyone with a tattoo they’d like gone could have it covered up with a design of the artists’ choosing, no questions asked.

“Let’s get that s— off your body,” the post read. “We have plenty of pred[r]awn designs and flash books, so if you feel it’s time to change your hate, or have been reformed but been too broke to cover your mistake of a tattoo, come see me [and] you’ll get a class tattoo for free that can start your path to being the person you were meant to be.”

The idea was launched by tattoo artists Jeremiah Swift and Ryun King, who told CNN it was inspired by their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen thousands of protests across the U.S. over the last few weeks against police brutality and systemic racism.

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“It’s definitely a long overdue change. Having anything hate related is completely unacceptable,” King told CNN. “A lot of people when they were younger just didn’t know any better and were left with mistakes on their bodies. We just want to make sure everybody has a chance to change.”

So far, more than 500 people have reached out for help getting rid of offensive images, owner Jay Harvill told ABC News.

Among those people are a man who had both forearms covered in hate symbols, and a man with a large swastika on his back who told King he’d never taken his shirt off in front of his children.

“I like seeing that. I like seeing people want to change themselves for the better,” King told CNN. “That swells me full of emotions.”

The very first person to take the artists up on their offer was Jennifer Tucker, 36, who had had a Confederate flag tattooed on her ankle since she was 18.

Tucker told CNN she grew up in a school and community with no Black families, and was constantly surrounded by Confederate flags.

She said she jumped on the bandwagon and got a tattoo of the flag, but later changed her views, and now participates in peaceful protests and solidarity movements supporting Black people.

“I just needed to get that symbol of hatred off of my body. Every time I attend a group meeting of protest, I make a new friend. And I don’t want to be standing next to them with a Confederate flag on my leg,” she said.

Now, instead of a Confederate flag, she has the Pickle Rick character from Rick and Morty inked on her, which she said has been “life changing.”

“I knew I had to do it, to be an example for other people who were in the same position,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot I can do, but this is something I can do to spread love, not hate.”

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.