Southside Tattoo, Baltimore Tattoo Parlour, Covers Up Gang Or Racist Tattoos For Free

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Tattoos aren't cheap, so although many people come to regret theirs, forking over more cash to have it covered up or even removed isn't an option.

But for one tattoo artist in the U.S., erasing hateful symbols is more important than making money.

Dave Cutlip, who owns Southside Tattoo in Baltimore, Md., covers up racist or gang tattoos for free, no questions asked.

"Sometimes people make bad choices, and sometimes people change," he read a January Facebook post that announced the parlour’s new policy.

"We believe that there is enough hate in this world and we want to make a difference."

Cutlip told The Washington Post that he and his wife came up with the idea after a man came in that month wanting a gang tattoo removed from his face.

The ink was too prominent to be covered up, Cutlip said, but that potential customer made them wonder whether they could help others.

People sometimes join hate groups and gangs to protect themselves, he said, but later are discriminated against because of the tattoos that connect them to hatred and violence.

randy stiles tattoo

Randy Stiles' Confederate flag tattoo has now been turned into a colourful eagle. (Photo: The Washington Post/Screenshot)

"Once you do something like that, you’re always going to be a victim," he told the Post.

In an interview with NPR, Cutlip shared the story of a coffee shop employee who had applied to work with Amazon but was turned down because he had white power symbols on his arms.

Another man who came to him for help had a tattoo of a Confederate flag with a noose at the bottom.

"And he said that growing up where he grew up, that's how things were and now that he has a job and has kids that he doesn't believe in that anymore, and I definitely believed him," he said.

You can hear that man, Randy Stiles, tell his story in the video above.

"We believe that there is enough hate in this world and we want to make a difference."

Cutlip told the Post in January that he had altered seven tattoos so far, but the appeal of his message has reached much further.

The initial post on Southside Tattoo’s Facebook page has more than 26,000 shares.

The Post points out that the idea isn't totally new. Ex-gang members in Virginia can also have their tattoos removed for free thanks to a program that started in 2007.

But the Cutlips want to spread their initiative beyond Baltimore. They have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for artists to perform the work in other cities.

“Our goal is to form a non-profit collective of artists from all over the world and get people in need the services that they need for free!” Elizabeth Cutlip wrote on the campaign page.

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