GoFundMe Studios has produced a mini-documentary about a customer at Southside Tattoo, the Brooklyn Park tattoo parlor that offers to cover up racist and gang-related tattoos for free.
Dave Cutlip, the owner of the tattoo parlor just south of Baltimore, started the Random Acts of Tattoo Project with his wife, Beth. They launched a GoFundMe campaign nearly a year ago in hopes of raising money to travel to assist people with no-cost coverups and to buy more equipment, like a laser removal machine.
The documentary “Shane Johnson: Breaking a Klan Legacy,” which was published on YouTube on Tuesday, follows the individual journey of Johnson, an Indiana native who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan until age 22. The now-26-year-old describes his tattoos — which included several swastikas — as his biggest burden.
“It’s hard to have stuff all over your body that you’re ashamed of. … Every day life is a struggle with them,” Johnson said in the video. But brushes with the law, including a night in jail, and committing acts of violence made him feel like the Klan would only lead him to prison or being killed. Johnson said he eventually questioned the Klan belief system, which he had been taught since birth. He decided to change his ways, and becoming a father solidified his need to break the legacy for his son and to get his tattoos removed.
“I want to meet somebody who is not white and not have to explain right off the bat, ‘Hey, don’t take offense to my tattoos. It’s from before.’ It’s like I’m just waving this stuff right in their face, you know. Imagine how they feel seeing it,” said Johnson.
Johnson learned about the Random Acts of Tattoo project on Facebook, when his phone began buzzing with notifications. Around 150 people had been tagging him in a post by Southside Tattoo. Later, he arranged to meet up to get his tattoos covered by Cutlip.
“He’s going to see a direct effect instantly when he goes out, as opposed to seeing swastikas, Shane can go to a PTA meeting,” said Beth Cutlip. “Shane can have kids come to his house and spend the night, and their parents aren’t going to say ‘Oh no, your kid can’t play with my kid.’ It’s so much more than just covering up that tattoo.”
In the process of filming the mini-doc, Johnson’s son, Wyatt, was born.
“It’s all about my son’s future. I’m going to teach my son love,” he said. “I just want to teach him love.”
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