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'Be kind, act in love' | Tattoo artist drawing a difference by offering free cover-ups of racist tattoos

Mebane tattoo artist Keron McHugh said he's received dozens of inquiries for cover-ups, and the waiting list is months long.

MEBANE, N.C. — A Triad Tattoo shop is doing its part to make a change. One of the artists is offering free cover-ups for racist tattoos. 

"The person that has a tattoo they might hate it, they may love it, they may wish they not had it anymore," said artist Keron McHugh. "They probably, in theory, might've gotten it covered up already if they could afford it and maybe that's not the case." 

McHugh said as an artist at The Cardinal Skin Art & Gallery, he's been offering free cover-ups of things like gang-related tattoos, and scars for some time now. 

The waiting list runs long. 

"I cover it up, then it's just one less piece of hate out there people can see," said McHugh. 

His most recent free cover-up was a tattoo with the confederate flag in it. He said the man that had it got it decades ago after getting out of the army. 

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"He regretted it almost immediately and this man has not been able to wear a tank top since 1984," said McHugh. "He wore a tee-shirt every day no matter how hot it is even if he's out doing an outside activity."

The man did not want to be identified. 

"He doesn't want anyone to see it and think that he's a hate-filled person and he doesn't want anyone to see it and be hurt by seeing it," said McHugh. 

McHugh said tattoos don't always define a person's character.

"The human canvas that it’s on, the guy that it’s on, is a superb human being. He is just, from the moment he came in I could tell that this is a really good guy," said McHugh.

"It’s not so much about the person that has this tattoo and we’re covering it - it’s about the people that will see it and come in contact with it and it will cause them to have a negative reaction just by seeing it."

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McHugh is hoping this will be a way he can make a small difference in the world.

"I can eliminate that by covering it up, even if it's just one less thing out there, that's just something," said McHugh. "I'm at least able to do something, rather than just talk about it or wish things could be different."

McHugh talked about other cover-ups he's completed. 

"I had one lady from Indonesia. She had a lot of scars on her, she was a victim of a terrorist bombing in Indonesia and she was left with scars on her legs and we covered them up," he said. 

McHugh said he tries to do a few cover-up appointments each month, and the waiting list is long. 

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