Erase the Hate: Mississippi tattoo parlor offering free cover-ups for former white supremacists

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 10:38 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A north Mississippi tattoo shop is helping former gang members and white supremacists get rid of a painful reminder.

At Sickside Tattoo Studio, what was meant to be permanent is now being covered up.

“What brought me in today, a change,” said Daryl Terry. “A change of life, a change of direction.”

It started a year and a half ago for Terry. The Memphis native, who calls himself a “former racist," spent years in and out of institutions, involved in crime and battling addition.

“I went all the way to the top of being a criminal,” said Terry. “I went all the way to the top of being a liar.”

Although Terry says he is no longer involved in that lifestyle, the markings on his body are a permanent reminder of the life he once lived.

“They never take off their shirts,” said T.M. Garret, human rights activist. “They cover up when they go swimming and they’re just ashamed of it.”

Garret knows that shame. He a former white supremacist who had similar tattoos. After more than 15 years involved in hate groups, Garret, who’s originally from Germany, changed his life around when he moved to the Mid-South. His goal is now to help people like Terry make a change by covering up hateful and racist tattoos.

“To see the look on people’s faces when they get up, they look in the mirror and see it’s gone,” said Drew Darby, tattoo artist. “It’s like we did a magic trick, you know?”

In 2017, Garret teamed up with Sickside Tattoo Studio in Horn Lake, Mississippi fro the "Erase the Hate’ campaign. Tattoo artists like Darby are covering up hateful tattoos for free. So far they’ve done more than 150 cover-ups.

“It allows people who normally wouldn’t be able to afford that tattoo to be able to come in and get it without having to worry about spending their rent money or bill money to get it done,” said Darby.

We were there as Terry got a tattoo covered up with a spade. For his safety, he couldn’t tell us much about the tattoo.

“Whatever that it represented, we’re going to leave it where it stays,” said Terry.

He’s had a total of five cover-ups, including four swastikas on his leg. His message to others who might be going through something similar -- what was doesn’t define you.

“I’m just on the other side of the mountain,” said Terry. “Let’s not worry about what moved the mountain or how the mountain moved. I just want to keep forward.”

Organizers are raising money to help more cover-up take place. You can help “Erase the Hate” by clicking here.

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