Dave Cutlip owns and operates Southside Tattoo near Baltimore. He was approached by a man who had 'grown up' and no longer wanted his racist tattoos. Because the series of tattoos were so prominent across his face, Dave was unable to cover them. He referred him to someone who could remove them with laser, an expensive procedure, but he felt bad about not being able to help.
When he told his wife the story, they came up with an idea - the shop would cover up racist, gang-related, or hate tattoos for free. They posted the offer on the tattoo parlor's Facebook page and the requests poured in. Many folks had gotten hate tattoos when they were 'young and stupid,' in order to fit in with a particular group. As adults, they found themselves branded socially and in the workplace. Dave's offer gives them a chance at a fresh start.
On a recent day, a man in his 20's showed Dave his tattoo: a Confederate flag with a noose below and the words 'Southern Pride' scrolled above. With no questions asked and free of charge, Dave covered the image with an eagle.
The idea is not new - the Southern Poverty Law Center has funded tattoo removal in the past. But Southside's offer went viral, and Dave is encouraging other parlors to join in. A GoFundMe site has been set up to offset the costs involved.
Dave and Elizabeth only ask one thing of their customers - pay it forward. They want to cover hate with kindness and love.