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Reformed skinhead endures agony to remove tattoos

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I just thought this was an interesting read.

the full article is here: Reformed skinhead endures agony to remove tattoos

here is part of the article...it is pretty long...

Reformed skinhead endures agony to remove tattoos

By HELEN O'NEILL, AP Special Correspondent

Sunday, October 30, 2011(page 1 of 4) SINGLE PAGE

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(10-30) 09:21 PDT , (AP) --

Julie Widner was terrified — afraid her husband would do something reckless, even disfigure himself.

"We had come so far," she says. "We had left the movement, had created a good family life. We had so much to live for. I just thought there has to be someone out there who will help us."

After getting married in 2006, the couple, former pillars of the white power movement (she as a member of the National Alliance, he a founder of the Vinlanders gang of skinheads) had worked hard to put their racist past behind them. They had settled down and had a baby; her younger children had embraced him as a father.

___

EDITOR'S NOTE — A reformed skinhead, Bryon Widner was desperate to rid himself of the racist tattoos that covered his face — so desperate that he turned to former enemies for help, and was willing to endure months of pain. Second of two parts.

___

And yet, the past was ever-present — tattooed in brutish symbols all over his body and face: a blood-soaked razor, swastikas, the letters "HATE" stamped across his knuckles.

Wherever he turned Widner was shunned — on job sites, in stores and restaurants. People saw a menacing thug, not a loving father. He felt like an utter failure.

The couple had scoured the Internet trying to learn how to safely remove the facial tattoos. But extensive facial tattoos are extremely rare, and few doctors have performed such complicated surgery. Besides, they couldn't afford it. They had little money and no health insurance.

So Widner began investigating homemade recipes, looking at dermal acids and other solutions. He reached the point, he said, where "I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid."

In desperation, Julie did something that once would have been unimaginable. She reached out to a black man whom white supremacists consider their sworn enemy.

Daryle Lamont Jenkins runs an anti-hate group called One People's Project based in Philadelphia. The 43-year-old activist is a huge thorn in the side of white supremacists, posting their names and addresses on his website, alerting people to their rallies and organizing counter protests.

In Julie he heard the voice of a woman in trouble.

"It didn't matter who she had once been or what she had once believed," he said. "Here was a wife and mother prepared to do anything for her family."

Jenkins suggested that Widner contact T.J. Leyden, a former neo-Nazi skinhead Marine who had famously left the movement in 1996, and has promoted tolerance ever since. More than anyone else, Leyden understood the revulsion and self-condemnation that Widner was going through. And the danger.

"Hide in plain sight," he advised. "Lean on those you trust."

Most importantly, Leyden told him to call the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"If anyone can help," he said, "it's those guys."

___

When Widner called, says Joseph Roy, "it was like the Osama Bin Laden of the movement calling in."

Roy is chief investigator of hate and extreme groups for the SPLC. The nonprofit civil rights organization, based in Montgomery, Ala., tracks hate groups, militias and extreme organizations. Aggressive at bringing lawsuits, it has successfully shut down leading white power groups, bankrupted their leaders and won multimillion dollar awards for victims.

The SPLC hears regularly from people who say they are trying to leave hate and extreme groups. Some are fakes. Some are trying to spread false intelligence. Many are in crisis, and return to the group when the crisis passes.

"Very rarely have we met a reformed racist skinhead," says Roy.

Over the years, Roy had dubbed Widner the "pit bull" of skinheads. "No one was more aggressive, more confrontational, more notorious," Roy said.

And yet, over several weeks of conversations with Bryon and Julie, he became convinced. There was something different about this couple — a sincerity, a raw determination to put the past behind them and to seek some sort of redemption.

Read more: Reformed skinhead endures agony to remove tattoos

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I was glad to see that Joseph Roy was able to discern between a 'reformed skinhead' and a 'reformed racist skinhead', unlike the writer and editor of the piece. I'm amazed by how well those tattoos have been removed.

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In Texas, they offer free gang tattoo removal. I used to work with a kid in treatment who was a former Norteno with facial tattoos (not as large heavy as that arrow on this dude's face) and the removal is that good.

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He looks happy in the end...

This guy's life was a mess... big time booze habit, doing the hate thing 24-7 and hanging with even bigger assholes. Good to see him get straight.. had kids too.

CG

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This story was on Australian TV a couple weeks ago. All his 'regrets' they mentioned were about the tattoos, not the racist mindset, I was confused as to whether he was actually a 'reformed' racist or not. Maybe our version of the story got edited up a little more confusing.

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This story was on Australian TV a couple weeks ago. All his 'regrets' they mentioned were about the tattoos, not the racist mindset, I was confused as to whether he was actually a 'reformed' racist or not. Maybe our version of the story got edited up a little more confusing.

I saw the whole thing and I believed that he got out of the racist community physically, mentally and spiritually. A lot of his actions were fueled by drugs, booze and the arseholes he hung out with.

CG

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Way late to this thread...

In Texas, they offer free gang tattoo removal. I used to work with a kid in treatment who was a former Norteno with facial tattoos (not as large heavy as that arrow on this dude's face) and the removal is that good.

Back in 1995, my neighborhood was rocked when two brothers killed their parents and younger brother, both were Neo-Nazi, one having Seig Heil and the other having Berzerker on their foreheads, http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/family/freeman_brothers/2.html - we don't see a lot of hate / gang crime around here.

One of the firs things we looked into was offering gang tattoo removal when we put our business plan together last year, however there just isn't a lot of it in my area. An hour SW of me is Philly, but through all the research I couldn't find any private, local, state or national grant programs that offered us some reimbursement for doing it. We want to help the community, just can't donate 100% all the time.

If anyone in Eastern PA or Western NJ knows anything about this, drop me a PM.

We've also been actively reaching out to the armed forces and first responder recruiters, offering discounts for those trying to enlist but can't do to ink.

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Way late to this thread...

Back in 1995, my neighborhood was rocked when two brothers killed their parents and younger brother, both were Neo-Nazi, one having Seig Heil and the other having Berzerker on their foreheads, Bryan & David Freeman of the Allentown Massacres -- — Piecing the Puzzle Together — Crime Library on truTV.com - we don't see a lot of hate / gang crime around here.

One of the firs things we looked into was offering gang tattoo removal when we put our business plan together last year, however there just isn't a lot of it in my area. An hour SW of me is Philly, but through all the research I couldn't find any private, local, state or national grant programs that offered us some reimbursement for doing it. We want to help the community, just can't donate 100% all the time.

If anyone in Eastern PA or Western NJ knows anything about this, drop me a PM.

We've also been actively reaching out to the armed forces and first responder recruiters, offering discounts for those trying to enlist but can't do to ink.

What a generous thing to offer. Before you even were up and running, you were partially focused on helping folks. Major kudos to you sir. You're an ace in my book.

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thats dope, man. theres people out there who really need this type of service who dont have any money and who go beyond just wanting better work. it also sucks that they cant find people who are offering laser at affordable prices. this skinhead dude had to plead to an organization to help him out with some butthole doctor at the hospital whos probably charging way more money than ive seen in my life.

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Thanks @Brock Varty & @YOMONEY - I probably said this elsewhere on LST but when we started, we made it clear in our plan that we don't want to shame people about having tattoos, for any reason. I also am not offended when someone only wants a few treatments because they want a cover up. At the end of the day, we (business partner & I) want to make people happy. Tattoo removal is very different compared to being tattooed. I build relationships with my clients, I see them every 4-6 weeks for months on end, in some cases a year or more. They need to be as comfortable coming into me as possible, because they obviously don't like what they have on them, so why make the environment one of regret and shame? Seems like bad business.

We offer a standing discount to enlisted members of the military and first responders, but like I said, are trying to work with recruiters about those wishing to enlist and trying to find government money to help even partially fund removal of tattoos for those who are re-entering the working world after being incarcerated, no longer in a gang or former member of a hate group. Also looking to partner up with local job fairs to help those who tattoos in visible locations (knucks & necks) who are now having issues pursuing more "conservative" jobs where such tattoos are frowned upon.

We're all tattooed, we all know that there shouldn't be prejudice but there is, and sometimes you just have to bend a little "for the man" as they say. Having worked in NYC, it's perfectly acceptable to be tattooed up and down, left and right, in most industries. Go to small town USA, totally different story.

I also agree with the pricing. We're not undercutting our local competition, we're competitively priced, but due to promos, sales and specials you can probably get a slightly better deal through us. That said, I have a few clients who come in from a neighboring state and would rather drive 2 and a half to three hours to me because their local options cost THREE TIMES what we charge!

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We watched this last night. It's nice to see someone like that, who was so brainwashed on the white power stuff and with such a violent past, change so much. A good story. I was looking around the internet today to see how they are doing now. They have a website called "the penance" and at the bottom of the page there's a link to donate to them. They accept all kinds of credit cards. It doesn't seem like they have any sort of charitable organization--like to help others get out of the movement or anything...I think it just goes straight to them which seems kinda lame. But I guess if people want to give them money, good for them.

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