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Entries in Tattoo (5)

Saturday
Mar022013

Tattoo Artist Helps Ex-Gang Members Erase Past for Free

ABC News/McKenzie Baker(OSWEGO, Ill.) -- Second chances can be hard to come by, but Chris Baker, 42, a tattoo artist in Oswego, Ill., gives them away for free.

Since 2011, Baker, who is also a youth pastor, has created more than 500 free tattoos for former gang members and victims of human trafficking eager to remove or cover up the visible evidence of their past. Big city human trafficking networks are often run by gang members, who tattoo their victims with barcodes, pimps’ names or gang symbols to track them and make it almost impossible for them to escape.

“It’s my way of giving back to the community that’s given me so much,” Baker told ABCNews.com, in explaining his service. “I just decided to do something positive, and to show people that people can change.”

Baker founded INK 180, a nonprofit organization that he funds with money he earns from his regular tattooing business and through donations. The name symbolizes the degree of change he hopes for in the lives of those he tattoos.

Baker has worked with former members of the Latin Kings, Black Disciples and Aryan Nation, explaining that the tattoos are like a rite of passage for initiated gang members.

It was during one of his youth group meetings that Baker realized he wanted to help these people, whose efforts to change and progress were often halted by the markings of their past.

Once a warehouse manager, Baker said that many of his employees had belonged to gangs, and they often compared their tattoos to Baker’s religious ones.

“They would say, ‘I wish I could get rid of my tattoos.  I’m tired of getting judged,’” Baker recalled. “And I decided, ‘That’s my calling.’”

For two years, Baker has worked with local, state and federal authorities to offer his services to former gang members who had difficulty finding jobs, or who were living in secrecy from gangs that they had left.

A member of his church who works with the Department of Homeland Security brought Baker’s attention to victims of human trafficking –  pointing out that by covering up or removing their tattoos, Baker could make it much harder for their captors find them.

The gang members who come on their own, or the women who have escaped sex trafficking rings and arrive with law enforcement protection, open up to Baker as he listens to them describe what they’ve done and what they want to do.

“These guys will say, ‘Yeah, it hurts,’ but it’s almost like penance for them. It’s representative of the pain they caused others, and they don’t want to cause anymore,” Baker said.

Baker leaves the type of tattoo up to his customers. “No matter the design, I just love being able to take away the visible reminders of their past and give them something beautiful to remind them of their future,” said Baker.

“There was one guy from Kansas City who had gotten out of prison,” Baker recalled. “We did a cover-up of a tattoo for him and found out he was an artist. He’s now working as an artist for a greeting card company.”

The Oswego village board recently approved Baker’s special use permit, and in a few weeks, he will have a more permanent home for INK 180, after previously renting spaces. It’ll be one of the few tattoo shops in the United States with a prayer wall and an information center for other nonprofit ministries in the area.

“People always ask me why I do this for free,” Baker said. “The stories I hear make it worth it.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

North Carolina Mom Busted for Tattooing 11-Year-Old Daughter

Robert Ginn/Getty Images(HAVELOCK, N.C.) -- A North Carolina mother was arrested after she gave her 11-year-old daughter a small heart-shaped tattoo near her shoulder, authorities said.

Odessa Clay, 30, of Greensboro, N.C., faces one count of tattooing a person under age 18.

It is illegal to tattoo a minor in North Carolina, regardless of parental consent.

The Havelock Police Department charged Clay, who has a few tattoos of her own, with the offense in late September.

In her defense, Clay said she did not know tattooing a minor, especially her own daughter, was illegal.

“She asked me to do it,” Clay told ABC News affiliate WCTI-TV, adding that she only drew a heart outline and did not fill in the shape.

Clay said she believes an ex in-law turned her in after she filed a report against her 11-year-old daughter’s paternal grandfather.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr222011

California Gang Member's Tattoo of Murder Scene Leads to Crime Conviction

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Departmen(LOS ANGELES) -- Authorities relied on a chest tattoo that depicted the murder scene to apprehend and convict a California gang member for a deadly shooting.

Anthony Garcia, 25, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder for the 2004 shooting at a liquor store in Pico Rivera. He could face life in prison for the crime when he is sentenced next month.

Garcia had avoided arrest for four years until he was picked up by police for driving with a suspended license in 2008. Because Garcia appeared to be an active member of the Rivera-13 gang, police snapped pictures of his tattoos, along with his mugshot.

Det. Sgt. Kevin Lloyd was looking through pictures of gang members' tattoos for leads on another crime when one image looked eerily familiar. Lloyd had worked as a sergeant at the Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station when the murder happened Jan. 23, 2004, at Mr. Ed's Liquor store.

Lloyd followed his hunch, driving to the liquor store named on the tattoo and pulling the old case file.

Garcia's tattoo captured the night of the shooting, from the Christmas lights outside the liquor store to the bent light post in the store's parking lot to the convalescent home called the Rivera, next door to the liquor store. The scene shows a chopper spraying bullets on a victim. Garcia's gang nickname is "Chopper."

The victim, John Juarez, is depicted as a Mr. Peanut. The peanut is commonly used as a symbol of a rival gang in Pico Rivera, Lloyd said. The crime scene is under a tattoo on Garcia's neck that reads "Rivera Kills."

The tattoo was so accurate that Lloyd called it a "crime scene sketch and a confession." Garcia's tattoo artist even matched the trajectory of the bullets, Lloyd said.

Garcia was arrested in October of 2008 and charged with the murder. He reportedly confessed to officers posing as gang members in the jail.

Deputy District Attorney Brock Lunsford prosecuted the case and called Garcia's tattoo a "non-verbal confession."

Lunsford said Garcia spent years perfecting the tattoo. A 2005 booking photo of him from an unspecified charge shows just the chopper shooting bullets at Mr. Peanut. A 2006 booking photo of him from another unspecified charge adds the liquor store and his 2008 booking photo from the suspended license charge shows the complete scene.

Police said they have closely examined Garcia's other tattoos to see if they represent any other crimes, but so far they do not believe so. Some of his other tattoos show a man wearing a bandana around his mouth pointing a gun. Another shows a man holding somebody in a chokehold with one arm and pointing a dagger toward their head in the other.

Garcia's getaway driver, gang member Robert Armijo, pleaded guilty to the crime and testified against Garcia. He is facing a 20-year prison sentence, police said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Georgia Man Sentenced for Tattooing Toddler Son

WSB-TV Atlanta(FLOYD COUNTY, Ga.) -- A Georgia man has been fined $300 and sentenced to 12 months of probation for tattooing his toddler son. Eugene Ashley, 26, pleaded guilty Monday to giving his three-year-old son a tattoo on his shoulder in 2009 that said "DB" -- short for "Daddy's Boy." Ashley pleaded guilty before the case could be heard by a jury.

Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson called the tattooing of the boy "egregious," the Rome News-Tribune reported.

Patterson told the paper that it would have been difficult to take the case to a jury. "I don't know if we would be able to elicit a testimony from a child," Patterson told the Rome News-Tribune.

The boy's mother, Amy Ashley, was not cooperative and refused to testify. She was the only witness other than the victim, Patterson said. George Hawkins, the boy's uncle, has custody of the now five-year-old child.

Eugene Ashley--– who is not the child's biological father, but adopted him when he and Amy Ashley were married -- is not allowed to see the child. The boy's mother, Amy Ashley, struggles with drug addiction and also lost custody, Hawkins said.

The boy received the tattoo sometime between January and May 5, 2009, according to court documents. Officials from Georgia's Department of Family and Child Services noticed the tattoo while visiting the family's home, where the couple lived with their four children. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Nov142010

Food Stylist's Tattoos Raise Questions on Delta Flight

Image Courtesy - ABC News(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- The traveling public has learned a lot of new rules for behavior and things to say -- and to not say -- when boarding an aircraft.  Tattoos may also fall under the post 9/11 sensitivity to airline security safety.  Social media went wild this weekend after noted food stylist Adam C. Pearson was ushered to the front of a Delta Airlines flight when another passenger expressed concern about the tattoos on his fingers.  

Pearson says the letters spelling out "Atom Bomb" refer to a childhood nickname and he was surprised by the flight attendant's request Saturday that he leave his seat.  He was allowed to continue on the flight after explaining the tattoos.  When the plane landed in Memphis, Pearson discovered that a brief message he sent over Twitter just before takeoff had sparked a huge response. 

Delta told Pearson the incident would be looked into.

Pearson is quoted in the Los Angeles Times saying a public apology would be nice.  "I'm not out for blood," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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