White Supremacist Removes Face Tattoos To Forget His Dark Past
We bury things that are dead to us. But sometimes, the things we bury just won't stay dead.
Bryon Widner. His body was once a map etched with the river of hate which flows between valleys of ignorance, where he drowned in his own hostility and in the depth, he found himself and everything wrong with the way he was living. Raised in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood by an alcoholic grandmother, the young Neo-Nazi that was Bryon had a hard knock life. He had brawls for breakfast and fist fights for lunch. He was fourteen then when he first identified himself as a skinhead. It was also around the time when he started getting tattoos. The young teenager got swastikas a few years early before he realized what they meant. All he knew was that he was a part of the Soldiers of the New Reich.
Getting out of his town in 1999 led him to the Hammerskins of Indiana, who were apparently known to be one of the most violent groups. If Bryon had brawls for breakfast, these guys swallowed their enemy's guts for appetizers. Bryon knew that this is where he belonged. He's the pitbull of the group armed with a straight-edged razor. Soon, he began filling in the empty spaces of his skin with emblems of hate and separatist logos. He embraced his racist lifestyle until it's the only thing he's ever known.
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When the Hammerskins disbanded, Bryon formed a new group with his former brothers and called themselves the Vinlanders Social Club. It was literally a highway to hell. Bryon spent his days raiding the town as a rogue wolf, and wasted nights getting drunk off alcohol mixed with animosity and fatigue. He felt that something was wrong when he witnessed his fellow members abusing women, but decided to seal his lips with a liquor bottle. Towards the end of the first decade of his lifestyle, Bryon felt the hole burrowing in his chest which made him aware of the empty part of him beyond his ink-covered skin.
He soon met Julie, a woman from a different alliance of white supremacists, in 2005. They fell in love and soon decided to get married by the year 2006 and had a son soon after. The couple knew that the beginning of their family should be the ending of their past lives. This culture is not the type of facade they would want their young family to grow up in. The Vinlanders Social Club did not like that. The president of the VSC then gave Bryon an ultimatum to choose between his family and the brotherhood. Byron though it would be the end when he turned his back from the gang. Not quite.
Death threats kept them awake at night, knowing that at any time in the dead of the night, the men Bryon once saw as brothers can barge right into their front door and look him in the eye as the first punch lands on his face.
As if trying to keep himself and his family alive isn't straining enough, Bryon struggled to make ends meet, hopping from one job to another. Having visible tattoos can raise an eyebrow or two. Having face tattoos can make a head turn twice. But Bryon, as we know, did not have just some kind of tattoo. Scrawled all over his face, as well as the neck and hands, were prominent hate symbols and art. It's not just something you can sue your boss with the reason of discrimination from.
There is no way Bryon can go on to a normal life when he wakes up with the tracks of a past he's running away from still carved on his skin every morning. He then became desperate, revealed that he even considered dousing himself in acid, just to blur the filth on his body. Barely even holding a job, laser treatments are already out of the question. Julie ran to their former longtime enemies, the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group then pointed the couple to Daryle Lamont Jenkins, the founder of Philadelphia-based One People’s Project. Little by little, doors started opening for the Widners, which made the bleak future of the couple brighter and brighter.
Dr. Bruce Shack was the man for the job. He have never seen something like it before, but he was willing to take on the challenge. It was a slow and painful process. Even the stings from the tattoo guns on Bryon's skin all those years ago can't be compared to the pain from the heat of the lasers. This is the price. Bryon knew this as he bit his tongue and once again, took it like the tough guy from the streets.
Since then, the family has moved on to a quiet life with their family and close friends, grateful for the second chance of a normal life they've been given. To keep their family safe, they are leading a private life, in fear of the hounds that once hunted within their parameters.