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South Bend tattoo parlor covers up racist tattoos free of charge

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A South Bend tattoo parlor is offering free cover ups for anyone wanting to forget their past, and erase the racism from their bodies. 

The cover ups were offered following all of the recent violence in Charlottesville, and other parts of the country.

"Part of the reason they want it covered, is because they want to forget their past," explains David Martin, the owner of Bicycle Tattoo.

He's inked up people for years and has seen it all.

"Rebel flag, there's been swastikas, S.S. bolts," lists Martin. 

But recent rallies and tensions have been hitting too close to home.

"Seeing me randomly on the street, you might perceive me to be a Nazi skinhead, just based on how I have tattoos on my head and on my face," says Martin. "I'm actually a Pokagon Potawatomi Indian."

"There was some racist comments that sunk into that," he adds.

Martin decided he had to do something.

"When you get a tattoo that might be perceived as racist, or is flat out racist, a lot of times you're young and you're not thinking," he explains. "This is what we can do. I think it's a small thing, I don't think it's as big as what some other people are doing."

 But Michiana is behind him, and the other tattoo parlors offering to help those wanting to change their lives.

"We've even had people offer to set up a GoFundMe and help pay for the tattoos, but unequivocally, do not give us any money. It would be giving us a donation for a donation that we are making, and it would take away what we're trying to do," Martin says.

Instead, he believes if people want to donate, their money is better off with the NAACP or ACLU. 

While the tattoo transformations won't change the past, but it can make a new mark on the future. 

"[We're] taking what's there already and using it to mask or camouflage the old tattoo," Martin explains. "You have to come up with a compromise based on the design." 

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