White supremacist who changed his life – and face
Published 01/11/2011 | 08:14
One of America's most violent and well known white supremacists, Bryon Widner, has undergone months of surgery to remove the hate tattoos that once covered his face.
Bryon Widner rejected the racist beliefs that had made him a notorious figure amongst the American extreme Right, but was struggling to readapt to society because of the web of tattoos that covered his face and neck.
Widner, known as an "enforcer" for US racist groups, was unable to find a job after leaving his past behind.
The former racist, a founder of the Vinlanders gang of skinheads in Ohio, embarked on a painful series of 25 surgeries that took 16 months and cost $32,400 (£20,233).
Widner's wife Julie says the path to removing the tattoos was a long, painful journey. She feared Widner would take drastic measures to remove the tattoos as the couple struggled to pay for the procedures.
"We had come so far," she says. "We had left the movement, had created a good family life. We had so much to live for. I just thought there has to be someone out there who will help us."
"I was totally prepared to douse my face in acid," Widner says.
Julie then did something that the couple would have found unimaginable in their previous lives and approached a black man for help.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins runs an anti-hate group called One People's Project based in Philadelphia, who put Widner in touch with a reformed neo-Nazi.
"It didn't matter who she had once been or what she had once believed," Jenkins said. "Here was a wife and mother prepared to do anything for her family."