Iowa man working to erase racism by covering up Ku Klux Klan tattoo

Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:59 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - An Iowa man wanting to turn his life around is starting with covering up some ink. For more than 25 years the man from Newton had a symbol of hate in the form of a tattoo on his right arm. It’s a photo of the grim reaper with a Ku Klux Klan hat on.

He didn’t want to give TV-9 his name, but he said he got it in prison to fit in with other White inmates. “Pretty much you had to take, or let it be known that you were white or you were going to get taken from the other side or whatever else,” the man said of prison life. “I’d say that while I was in prison that I was definitely racist.”

He started changing his ways once he got out. He realized the tattoo he wore with pride in prison was a sign of racism.

“It was kind of easy, you know, to try and say it was just a reaper, but in my eyes and in my head and heart I knew it was much more than that,” he said.

Now, he’s covering up that part of his past. He replaced the hooded grim reaper with golf clubs and golf balls. He got it done at Lefty’s Tattoo in Cedar Rapids.

“You might see the smile on my face because of the tattoo, but you don’t see how deep that smile goes and what’s actually behind that smile,” he said. “It’s a freeing moment if that’s what you wanna say.”

The man saw a post online about Lefty’s Tattoo covering up any racist or gang related tattoos for free. So he reached out to the owner.

“His response and reaction to that tattoo, I’m pretty happy about,” said Lefty’s Tattoo owner Troy McDaniel. “To see his reaction made it worthwhile for sure.”

It took over two hours to cover up the tattoo. He said he’s matured and is open to discussions on race relations in America, because he knows change comes from within.

“I think I’ll actually be able to put that part of my life to rest,” he said.

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