DENHAM SPRINGS, La. (The Livingston Parish News) – A local tattoo parlor is lending its services to erase hate.
Burning Lotus Tattoo, located in Denham Springs, recently began offering free to heavily discounted services to locals wanting to cover up any gang-related, racist, or hateful tattoos on their bodies.
The cover-ups are being done on a “case by case basis,” and the offer will stand “as time allows,” said owner Corey Nichols.
“If we can plant one seed of positivity, it’s bigger than a tattoo,” he said.
Racial equality has been one of the major talking points in Louisiana and beyond over the last month. The recent call began in late May when a white Minneapolis police officer was recorded kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an African American man, for nearly nine minutes after he was detained.
Floyd later died in a hospital, and his death later sparked protests and demonstrations across the country demanding justice and an end to police brutality along with major reforms to law enforcement.
The protests, which have been destructive in some cities, have remained mostly peaceful in Louisiana, though there have been instances of rowdy scenes in New Orleans over the last few weeks, including separate occasions when officers sprayed tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.
Peaceful marches have been held in Livingston Parish this month, one in Denham Springs in early June followed by one in Walker last weekend.
On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared June 19, 2020, as “Juneteenth Observance Day” in Louisiana to celebrate the day in 1865 when Union Major General Gordon Granger freed the last remaining enslaved African Americans in Texas.
The call for racial harmony has now made its way to Burning Lotus Tattoo, where Nichols and his fellow tattoo artists hope they can give locals who regret their earlier choices in life “a fresh start.”
Nichols said he was inspired to make the offer after a recent client texted him asking if he could cover up a tattoo of the Confederate flag. The man said he got the tattoo at a house party when he was a teenager, but in recent years it had become a source of embarrassment.
The tattoo, Nichols recalled, was “really small and faded,” and Nichols said that most people wouldn’t have even recognized what it was.
“But he knew what it was,” Nichols said. “And he didn’t want it on his body anymore. Now, he doesn’t have that embarrassed anymore.”
After Nichols covered up the man’s tattoo, he went online and posted a message on his Facebook page offering to cover up any hateful tattoos that locals have come to regret.
“If you have a gang related, racist, hate related tattoo and have since decided to change your life around…or have something of the past that’s a haunting reminder of where your heart once was, I’m going to start on a case by case basis of helping YOU out,” Nichols wrote. “From free to heavily discounted for my local friends and family to erase hate.
“I have a long wait list, but I want to offer this as time allows. I know this is one small thing I can do to help out.”
Nichols said his other tattoo artists all jumped on board with the “Erasing Hate” project, and they’re hoping other tattoo parlors will pick up the cause in their own communities. Though covering up tattoos won’t solve everything, Nichols said he hopes it can help others move past their previous mistakes.
“We can’t fix the world, but this is something we can do in our profession to help people,” Nichols said. “Hopefully when people walk out of here, they have a new lease on life.”
David Gray | The News