In my line of work, tattoos can make or break a case. A witness might remember a very distinctive tattoo on someone's arm that can help identify the person. Or the witness might say the suspect had no tattoos and since the defendant has plenty of him, it might be a misidentification.
I get that people like them and want to express themselves through them. What I will never understand though is face tattoos. Full disclosure - I don't have any tattoos.
It's a disturbing trend that I see everyday. Gang members, usually 16-18 years old, appear in court with a still glistening tattoo on their face. The ointment to help soothe the skin is still fresh and they've picked up a new case. Around these parts, a person doesn't get a face tattoo until they "put in some work," meaning they shoot someone. I'm not talking about the teardrop tattoos back in the day. These are full and recognizable symbols, much like the Mike Tyson tattoo, which are usually given at a tattoo party. Heard of Tupperware parties? It's much the same. A group of people get together and a tattoo artist inks everyone up for a fee.
What prompted this article was this story about a tattoo artist covering up gang tattoos for free. I applaud and appreciate his efforts. But what about the child who has now ruined any chance for a normal life by stamping his face with his neighborhood gang? Every good job is now off the table and with it any hope for a life off of the streets.
Don't the people realize that they are also branding themselves as an easily identifiable member of whatever gang symbol they put on their face? It's another product of our social, familial, and educational system that these children are choosing a path they can no longer leave at such a young age. To this day, I'll never forget my father telling my brothers and me we can get tattoos the day we started paying him rent. Is that the reason I never got any tattoos? Small statements like this mean a lot to help guide a child through life.