Stoneman Douglas supporters take a little pain, relieve a little pain with tattoos
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior Jeremiah Baez’s life changed on Feb. 14, 2018, when he hid from a gunman’s bullets.
Now, the date of the Parkland shooting that killed 14 students and three faculty at his school will be forever tattooed on his arm in Roman numerals — II XIV MMXVIII.
“It’s shown me how cruel the world can be,” said Baez, 16, who received his first tattoo Sunday.
In the wake of the deadly shooting, Stoneman Douglas students, teachers, alumni and supporters are using tattoos to memorialize those who died and show their school pride. At 16, students can get tattoos with a parent’s permission.
Hundreds of people lined up Sunday at No Hard Feelings Tattoo and Piercing in Coral Springs to get tattoos in exchange for donations to support the families of victims. Designs included the school’s eagle mascot, “MSD Strong,” and “Never Again.” Piercings were also offered for a donation.
You are taking a little pain, but you are relieving some pain.
Gabe Tucker, senior tattoo artist at No Hard Feelings Tattoo Gallery
Shop owner Chris Blinston said he and other tattoo artists at No Hard Feelings started working extra hours shortly after the tragedy to meet the demand for Stoneman Douglas tattoos. The shop planned to do at least 350 tattoos for free on Sunday and raise $10,000 in donations. Artists volunteered their time for the event, he said.
“Stoneman Douglas is our local school here,” said Blinston, an artist who has starred on Spike TV’s “Ink Master” reality show. “Those are our kids.”
Baez said he was in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps room when the accused shooter Nikolas Cruz started firing in the nearby 1200 building. Baez and his classmates hid behind bullet-resistant Kevlar sheets normally used for the JROTC’s marksmanship program.
He said he often wonders why Cruz didn’t enter his room. Cruz was wearing a JROTC shirt during the shooting, and he had once been enrolled in the program at Stoneman Douglas, officials said.
Steven Porter, 38, graduated from Stoneman Douglas in 1998. He lives near the school and ran there when he heard the news of the shooting. He and his classmates made banners to show their support.
His tattoo was the school mascot with the words “always an eagle” underneath.
“The eagle is fierce and strong,” Porter said. “It’s a perfect representation of what the school stands for.”
Some people didn’t have direct ties to the school, but they still wanted to memorialize the tragedy with a tattoo. John Mattarella, 48, got a tattoo of an eagle on his shoulder, even though he doesn’t have children who attend there. As a parent, he said, the shooting at a school in Broward County “hit close to home.”
Gabe Tucker, a senior tattoo artist at No Hard Feelings, said getting ink can be therapeutic for some.
“You are taking a little pain, but you are relieving some pain,” he said. “It helps you vent in a way.”
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