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Kentucky tattoo shop offers to cover up hate and gang symbols for free

Kentucky's Gallery X Art Collective is offering tree tattoo cover-ups for anyone with hate-related art on their body. Gallery X Art Collective

A Kentucky tattoo shop is helping clients cover up regrettable body art for free.

Jeremiah Swift and Ryun King are tattoo artists at Gallery X Art Collective in Murray. They decided to offer free tattoos to cover up hateful symbols or signs to take a stance in the Black Lives Matter movement.

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

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The shop first announced its free coverup offer on June 7 in a Facebook post.

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“If it is hate related, in any way, we will schedule you a day to come get it cover up for free, at the artists choosing,” the post reads. “We have plenty of pre-dawn designs and flash books, so if you feel it’s time to change your hate, or (you) have been reformed but been too broke to cover your mistake of a tattoo, come see me.”

“You’ll get a class tattoo for free that can start your path to being the person you were meant to be.”

Since posting, the shop has gotten more than 30 requests.

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Their first client was Jennifer Tucker, 36, who got a confederate flag tattoo on her ankle when she was 18.

“I went to school where there wasn’t a single Black person,” she told the publication. “Everyone in my school flew rebel flags … and I bandwagoned and got the tattoo.”

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But once she moved to a new city, things started to change. She got involved in peaceful protesting and social change movements aimed at fighting racial injustice.

On Tuesday, she had the hate symbol covered up with Pickle Rick, a character from the cartoon Rick and Morty.

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“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,” she said. “There’s not a whole lot I can do, but this is something I can do to spread love, not hate.”

The shop has gotten many other clients, like one man who covered both of his arms in hate symbols, and another with a swastika tattoo.

“One of the people we got was a man with both of his firearms completely covered in hate symbols, absolutely everywhere,” King told CNN. “How is this man going to interact with society with the mistakes he made 10, 15, 20 years ago?”

“I like seeing people want to change themselves for the better.”

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The gesture has clearly touched the hearts of old and new clients, with one Facebook user writing: “Absolutely love this. You have a lifelong client because of gestures like this.”

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“God bless your heart,” another person commented. “This is coming from a U.S. Army veteran who dealt with a lot of racism throughout my almost seven years of service.”

Another person wrote: “I’m sitting here crying over this. This is literally life changing and one of the kindest gestures I’ve ever seen.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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