(FOX NEWS) – A Kentucky tattoo couple, inspired by people fighting for racial justice during the COVID-19 pandemic, wanted to help rid the world of hate.
It started with a social media post in June.
“If you have a racist tattoo and want it gone, cover it for free. No questions asked,” Ryun King and his colleagues at Gallery X Art Collective wrote on Instagram.
King told Fox News the idea was born at the start of the pandemic as they watched “America’s history unfold … with protests, inequality, and people defending racial rights.” .. we just saw all these people risking their lives. “
When Gallery X Art Collective was allowed to resume operations over the summer, the idea of launching the Cover the Hate initiative was “instantaneous,” King said.
What he didn’t expect was such an overwhelming response.
“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of likes, hundreds and hundreds of shares,” he said.
They intended to just help those in their surrounding community – that is, until they started receiving hundreds of messages from people around the world.
“Our voicemail was totally full almost every day from people coming from California to New York. I had people from Ireland. I had a daughter from South Africa,” he said. declared. “It was just very overwhelming.”
King devotes every Thursday to this effort, and his waiting list still stretches “probably 10 or 20 years.” To help him, he brought in eight or nine other stores in the area that are linked to Gallery X Art Collective’s Facebook page.
“The swastika and SS locks and the Confederate flag tend to be the predominant images I see I need to cover,” he said.
And each person has their own – and in many cases – tragic story about how they got inked, he said.
“I had a father who told me he hadn’t taken [his] shirt in front of his kids ever… because of a mistake he made when he was in his early twenties in jail and ended up with the wrong crowd, ”King said.
In fact, most tattoos are done in prison or at someone’s house.
“I don’t think I heard anyone leave… ‘I generally hated this race,” he said. “It was always like’ I felt like I had to do this ‘… or’ I thought I was going to die in prison. ‘”
And the process of getting rid of it is not easy.
“You’re pretty much at the mercy of whoever is going to be able to cover this for you, if you’re feeling brave enough to even walk into the facility to say, ‘yes, that was me, no, that isn’t. who I am, ”he says.
Knowing this, King tries to keep things positive.
“Hey, man, you’re excited to get rid of this… let’s start with a new day and a new you,” he recalls starting his interactions.
Relief for his clients is almost immediate, he said.
“They’re going to kind of go through this pain management movement and then heal from it, because they’re kind of like letting it out while this tattoo is covering it up,” he said.
Many even cried.
For King, it’s about seeing them “go through this change” and being able to move away from the “ugly reminder of their past.”
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