People get chance to cover up gang-related, racist tattoos to start new life

Twisted Tattoo offers service free of charge

SAN ANTONIO – Many of us have done something in our past that we're not proud of or wish we could take back — even have a redo. But what if a part of your past was inked on your body and the choices you made back then are affecting you now?

A local tattoo shop is offering free cover-ups to anyone with gang related or racist tattoos. The move is changing lives, and those mistakes are laying down the foundation for a better future for some.

The response has been overwhelming.

"We have so many that have so many tattoos that are bad choices, and we have to try to get them in," said Denise Delgado, co-owner of the Twisted Tattoo.

People like Matthew Zapata are walking into Twisted Tattoo for a second chance.

"In 2014, I was on KSAT 12 a couple of times," Zapata said.

Surveillance video of Zapata wanted for armed robbery in Floresville was found.

"You get into trouble sometimes.  Sometimes, you have to go to jail and people will approach you and confront you about it, so it's something that I've been wanting to get covered up for a while," Zapata said.

Zapata wants to cover a tattoo on his back. He said when he was younger, he was affiliated with a lot of different groups and the stars tattooed on him represent his various connections.

"I just want to take care of it, erase it, like it never happened," Zapata said.

Stefani Traynham said she was never in a gang, but regrets getting the rebel flag on her leg in high school.

"I get a lot of ugly stares. I get a lot of whispers behind my back," Traynham said.

She said she's tired of arguing with people who don't understand the history behind the flag.

"A lot of people automatically associate it with the KKK or slavery or the hate of black people," Traynham said.

Traynham won't have to worry about that anymore. Her tattoo has been transformed into Tinker Bell.

"It's phenomenal. It doesn't even look like a cover up. It is definitely something to walk around and be proud of," she said after she saw the finished tattoo.

As for Zapata, the tattoo on his back represents the man he is now and his newfound faith.

"I'm a different person now.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I'm getting into the Bible and I'm getting into Jesus, and there's no shame in that. I'm proud to say that," he said.

As long as they're able to help people turn their life around, Denise Delgado said her tattoo artists will continue to donate their time and do the service free of charge.

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