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Categories: Wolf Tattoo Designs | Author: admin 04.10.2013

The Homeboy Industries building in downtown Los Angeles is a many-roomed rabbit warren: a bakery, a shop, rooms for counseling, rooms for job training, rooms for schooling, rooms for all sorts of things, all contained within the glass walls. That afternoon was the fourth time I’d hung out with Luis, who had been a security guard at Homeboy for about three and a half years and a part of the organization for nearly eight. But within a minute of taking a seat in the waiting room, beads of sweat started to appear on Luis’s forehead. Homeboy clients are told to have any gang-affiliation tattoos removed, as well as any that might prevent them from getting a job in the future, including tattoos from the neck up or the wrist down, and any concerning a family member or loved one. One patient who has stuck with me from that day with Clarke is a young guy, no older than 26, who was there to have a melted death head removed from the bottom of his throat. Valli Cohen, a nurse practitioner and a volunteer at Homeboy Industries, performs tattoo-removal. In an attempt to escape the drugs and crime of Boyle Heights and LA, Luis’s mother moved the family to Sacramento. Luis is now married to a woman named Alisha, who is also employed at Homeboy, where they met.
Echoing Leap's theory on loyalty, Luis said that he understands why people feel disloyal by removing tattoos tied to their past.


Back in the waiting room, the nurse beckoned Luis into the tattoo-removal room, lit by a tall window of sunlight. Past the waiting room are two farther doors, behind which you can hear the slapping sounds of tattoo-removal machines. A few weeks prior, I spent some time with Troy Clarke, a certified physician’s assistant and one of about 30 tattoo removal volunteers at Homeboy.
He removed his T-shirt to reveal a kind of Jungle Book–esque safariscape of tigers and lions and long grass across his back.
The writing was barely faded, but all around the letters the skin was raw, the color of pink nail polish.
He got up, paced the room, sat back down, got up, left the room, came back, sat down to run his arm over his brow again, then rose from his seat, again. It can take more than a year to remove if the tattoo is a large cover-up, or if it’s in color. For the past five years, she has shadowed the progress of 300 Homeboy clients throughout their time in the program and afterwards. His mother, a tearful, God-fearing American with a helmet of white hair, was with him for support.


The day was almost over for everyone but Luis, who stayed to lock up at around nine that evening.
She told the room that he had upset the rest of his family (an upstanding bunch, she said) with the decisions that he had made, but that he was making amends for it now—now that he was three months sober and living at home again. One of his friends drew the tattoo in his home when Luis was 15, but it looks clean, professionally done. And growing up and seeing my family members addicted to crack cocaine and the lifestyle they ran, I just accepted that that was what life was. He was polite, had an almost meek demeanor, and he sat motionless throughout the treatment.



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