Tattoo Artists Cover Up Racist Tattoos

These tattoo artists are turning hate into beauty — offering free cover-ups on racist tattoos after seeing what went down in Charlottesville, VA in 2017.

Video Transcript

David Martin: We don’t have time to go to a picket line. It’s just we have families to feed. We’re working people. What we can do is we can cover up racist tattoos, because there’s racist tattoos out there.

Narrator: When the staff at Bicycle Tattoo watched the horrifying attacks in Charlottesville, they lept into action. They announced to the public free coverups for racist tattoos. Immediately, they were overwhelmed with requests.

David Martin: We had one person that was underage, who her whole family was involved in a group, and she was given the tattoo when she was 13. We’ve had a lot of guys that got them when they were in prison. We’ve had some that were just, honestly, they believed in it at one time.

You just see it in their eyes when it’s done. It’s almost like you got something that’s been in your life that you’ve been carrying around, and then all of a sudden you don’t have that weight there anymore.

Some of these coverups were huge, like thousands of dollars worth of work. My guys were doing these coverups for free just to make sure that it was done. A lot of times, I know with a lot of the swastikas we’ve been covering up, we’ve been doing a lot of roses over those. You can take some of those swastika lines and then curve them out and fake it out into the shape of rose petals.

Narrator: No matter how permanent a tattoo may seem, there’s always a second chance. With each drop of ink, these artists are turning hate into beauty.

David Martin: When you have something like a symbol of a swastika, it’s actually a way of putting down your neighbor to say that this other person’s not human, not worth being treated as a human.

I was raised Potawatomi pretty much my entire life. My mother’s native and then my dad’s white. For me, I can see us all as equal, because we all have a struggle. We should all be joining together so we can keep moving on.

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