Culture

Ex-Gang Members Get A Glimpse Of The Life They Could Have And It’s Emotional

CREDIT: SKINDEEP HOMEBOYS / YOUTUBE

When photographer Steven Burton started the Skin Deep project, he wanted ex-gang members to see photographs of what they’d look like without tattoos. To accomplish this, Steven collected countless photographs, and spent over 400 hours painstakingly photoshopping away every tattoo from each individual, revealing what they would have looked like had their lives taken a different direction. Burton’s goal was to show how society judges these men, and, in turn, how these men judge themselves.

Emotions pour out of these individuals when they see themselves without tattoos.

CREDIT: SKINDEEP HOMEBOYS / YOUTUBE

As if freed from their past, for just a few minutes, these men suddenly open up about their life and their regrets. They speak candidly about the people they’ve hurt, from friends, to parents, to their own children. They confess how much of their lives they’ve wasted in jail cells or in pursuit of a gang lifestyle. And as they look at their tattooless image, you can almost see in their face a glimmer of hope that maybe hasn’t been there in a while. It’s as if they can see life beyond their past for the first time. On the Kickstarter page for Skin Deep, Burton writes, “This book puts a very human face on a group of people that our society is so often too quick to demonize.”

The photos from the Skin Deep project will be turned into a book, and a percentage of the profits will go to Homeboy Industries.

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CREDIT: SKIN DEEP / KICKSTARTER

The Skin Deep project has been a massive undertaking by Steven Burton, as well as the fantastic Homeboy Industries. For those who don’t know, Homeboy Industries is a Los Angeles-based non-profit that “provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.” With these collected photos, Steve and company are looking to turn this project into a book, around 172 pages they estimate. However, the project still needs funding from supporters — as of today, they are about $7,000 short, with five days to go. You can pledge money for this project at the Skin Deep Kickstarter page.

For anyone who is interested, Homeboy Industries performs around 3,000 free tattoo removal treatments each month. For more information, check out Homeboy Industries’ website here.

 

The transformations in the video are shocking.


They also reveal a truth about the stigma behind men and women with tattoos. Face tattoos in particular.

And so many of the men in the video conceded to feeling emotional about their tattoo-less images.

So many of the men in the images admitted to feel pained by the isolation and stigma of their tattoos. Some detailed stories of being shunned on buses and avoided in streets.

Some of them even teared up.

While others admitted that their tattoos sometimes made them feel so limited in their potential they’d considered ending their lives.

And many of them opened up about how their tattoo transformations would have affected their family lives.

One of the video’s subjects confessed that his tattoos often made him want to isolate himself from his kids so they wouldn’t grow up to be like him.

READ: Homeboy Industries Removes Tattoos For Former Gang Members And Released Prisoners

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After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

Entertainment

After Tekashi69 Cooperated With Authorities Against His Gang He Now Fears Spending Time In Prison

6ix9ine / Instagram

Rapper Tekashi69 may have been sentenced to two years in prison last month, but he’s already petitioned the judge presiding over his case to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement for fear of his life. Tekashi, born Daniel Hernandez, was initially facing 37 years in prison, for firearms, racketeering, shootings, and robbery charges. His cooperation in taking down his own gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, reduced his prison sentence to two years. However, this means that Hernandez was transferred from a federal jail to a private prison alongside “various members of the Bloods,” according to Hernandez’s attorney, Lance Lazzaro, in a motion to modify Hernandez’s prison sentence. The term “snitches get stitches” is gang culture canon for a reason and Hernandez’s cooperation ensured the conviction of two Nine Trey gang members, a Bloods gang.

Now, Lazzaro is trying to get Hernandez out of prison by emphasizing that “Hernandez’s safety is still, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, seriously at risk.”

Daniel Hernandez, a.k.a. Tekashi69, hoped that his cooperation would warrant his immediate release from custody after pleading guilty to his charges.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Judge Paul A. Engelmayer spoke directly to Hernandez in the courtroom last month when he told him, “Your conduct was too violent, too sustained, too destructive, too selfish, and too reckless with respect to public safety to make a sentence of 13 months at all reasonable,” according to The New York Times. Hernandez pleaded guilty to several shootings and robberies and appeared genuinely remorseful at his hearing. At one point, one of his victims testified about her experience of being shot by Hernandez. “I know I was wrong,” he reportedly said through tears. “I was weak. I was easily influenced. I can’t believe that was me. Again, your honor, there is no apology good enough.”

When Hernandez read his statement to the court, he spotted the father he hadn’t seen in over a decade in the crowd.

CREDIT: 6IX9INE / INSTAGRAM

Hernandez, 23, was giving his measured statement to the court when he visibly started to get emotional. Hernandez told Judge Engelmayer that he just noticed his biological father, who abandoned his family when Hernandez was in third grade, in the audience. The man confirmed and requested that he take the podium but Engelmayer told him that he “squandered” that right “many, many years ago.” 

The man and performer we knew as Tekashi69 has seemed to evolve during his court proceedings. Up until his arrest, Hernandez routinely rapped about gang life and his disdain for the law. Just one day after his arrest, however, he started “snitching” to the federal government on the Bloods.

The judge has described his cooperation as “game-changing” and “brave,” but it also makes him a serious target.

CREDIT: @ALMIGHTYJOKA / TWITTER

“As the court is well aware, Rolland Martin, a co-conspirator convicted in Hernandez’s case, was almost killed in a Bureau of Prisons facility, not for cooperating with the government, but for merely renouncing his membership in the gang,” Lazzaro told the court. Hernandez has not only renounced the gang but has “provided the government with critical insight into the structure and organization of Nine Trey” prosecutors stated in a court document meant to seek leniency in his sentencing. 

“Your cooperation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete and it was brave,” Judge Engelmayer told Hernandez during his sentencing, saying his cooperation “brought out the best in you, and you should be proud of yourself for it.” Since the government understands that Hernandez’s cooperation necessitates a lifetime of looking over their shoulders, his sentence has been reduced. With is safety in mind, he was sent to a private facility meant to provide extra security from Blood members. That very security measure may prove to be an obstacle in granting him early release into home confinement.

Now, Hernandez is seeking early release or to be transferred to a community correctional facility (CCC).

Credit: @ACAMBACANI / TWITTER

If his safety wasn’t a consideration, Hernandez would have been committed to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons until he was eligible for early release or a CCC. However, his cooperation with the government has imposed such a danger on his life, the Court sentenced him to a private facility without as much danger. Still, Lazzaro says that such accommodation has robbed him of the ability for an early release.

“Given the sensitive nature of his testimony as a government witness and his celebrity status, my client will have to take extreme measures for both the security of himself and his family for quite possibly the rest of their lives,” Lazzaro said, implying that a life sentence from a violent gang has already been assigned to Hernandez. 

Hernandez has declined the government’s offer of being placed in witness protection and says he wants to continue making music. In fact, just weeks before his trial, he signed a $10 million record deal. Today, he says he’s thinking of the children who have looked up to him to become an example of someone who can turn their life around.

READ: Tekashi69’s Undocumented Driver Cooperated With Federal Authorities To Avoid Being Deported

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Tekashi 69 Released From Prison Early, Judge Recommends Release Because Of COVID-19 Fears

Entertainment

Tekashi 69 Released From Prison Early, Judge Recommends Release Because Of COVID-19 Fears

6ix9ine / Instagram

Update April 2, 2020, 1:18 p.m. PST: After being sentenced to two years in prison following a long and highly publicized trial, rapper Tekashi 69 might not have to serve his full sentence.

A judge has formally argued that Tekashi 69, also known as Daniel Hernandez, should be released early from his four-month federal prison stay.

Prosecutors have filed no objection to a judge’s recommendation that Tekashi 69 be released from prison early considering the COVID-19 health crisis.

According to several reports, the rainbow-haired rapper is already out of prison and serving the rest of his time in home confinement. The judge who recommended his early release cited the unique threat of COVID-19 in New York state as a reason for his early release.

Tekashi 69 was serving time in prison for gang-related activity. His trial made headlines around the world because he famously gave names of several gang members to lessen his own sentence.

Original: I’ve seen “Law & Order” enough times to know how the judicial system works. If someone is arrested on whatever charge, the courts can quickly lower those charges if the person accused has information on other suspects with higher crimes. In other words, ‘do I have something you want, and if so, what will give you me if I give you that?’ For an example of this exchange at play, take a look at the case against 6ix9ine. 

A federal court judge has sentenced 6ix9ine to only two years in prison in exchange for information that would implicate gang members to another crime. 

Credit: 6ix9ine / Instagram

The rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, has already been in jail for 13 months on charges of firearms and racketeering.  Judge Engelmayer was so impressed with the information that 6ix9ine provided that, aside from lowering his sentence, he will also be allowed time severed, which means he only has a couple of months in jail to serve. He could have served 37 years. For the 23-year-old, a 37-year sentence behind bars would have been his entire adult life. 

“Your cooperation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete, and it was brave,” the judge told Hernandez. It has “brought out the best in you, and you should be proud of yourself for it.”

6ix9ine was very emotional during the sentencing. He was in tears, and he also faced his biological dad for the first time since he was a little kid.

Credit: 6ix9ine / Instagram

“I know I was wrong,” the Brooklyn-based rapper told the judge, according to the New York Times. “I was weak. I was easily influenced. I can’t believe that was me. Again, your honor, there is no apology good enough.”

The other emotional moment in court came when 6ix9ine saw his biological dad in court. The man who raised him died when 6ix9ine was gunned down near his home in Brooklyn. His real dad appeared in court and wanted to speak in court, but the judge told him no. 

“It is way too late,” Judge Engelmayer said, the Times reports. “You squandered that many, many years ago.”

6ix9ine has been in and out of jail for other felony offenses, but it seems this time is trying to turn his life around. That will be a challenge since he ratted out his former gang friends. 

Credit: akadmiks / Instagram

A couple of months ago, 6ix9ine testified against gang members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. He explained that he began affiliating himself with Nine Trey in 2017 after the release of his single “GUMMO.” One of the men he testified against was his former bodyguard. He told the judge back then that he was tired of being extorted

However, going against any high-profile gang is risky, and some notable rappers have already called out 6ix9ine for implicating the gang members of Nine Trey. 

Aside from watching “Law & Order,” I’ve also seen “The Godfather,” and you never go against the family, even if they aren’t related to you. It’s hard to leave a gang or any high-crime organization, and some famous rappers called  6ix9ine out for being a rat. 

Rapper Meek Mill called 6ix9ine an Instagram rapper, which basically means he’s a fake gangster. Then Snoop Dogg called 6ix9ine a straight-up rat. We know 6ix9ine will go to jail for a little more before he is eventually released. We’re just concerned that things might not go well for 6ix9ine while he’s in jail. Inmates don’t take to people who snitch. 

It’s unclear if 6ix9ine will go into protective custody after he’s released, but either way, it will be hard for him to clean up his image, especially with all those tats on his face. 

Credit: 6ix9ine / Instagram

However, 6ix9ine’s career plays out, what is done is done. He may have done a positive thing for the greater good, but he may not have friends when he gets out. Make no mistake, 6ix9ine did what was right. He helped put away people who were worse criminals than he was. However, it looks as if he did it out of pure convenience — only to help himself. In the end, that is what implicating others in court is all about. But 6ix9ine better not put out some single after his release in which he is trying to pretend he is someone that he is clearly not — at least not anymore.

READ: Tekashi69 Is Facing At Least 49 Years In Prison For His Crimes But Wants The Judge To Give Him A Second Chance

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