Bryon Widner is an ex “borderline sociopath”, as he described himself. A man who defined himself as full of hate and with an insatiable thirst for violence. Widner embraced the skinhead lifestyle at the age of 14, and spent his next 16 in racist groups all over the US, contributing in the foundation of the Vinlanders Social Club, one of the most extreme group based in Indiana.
Widner was known with the name “Pitbull”, and spent beyond 15 years in a “family” of heavy racists, engaged in criminal activities going from bullying to the actual cold blooded killing.
Widner-s life changed radically in 2005, when he married a girl named Julie Larsen, mother of 3 children, with whom he had a child himself. The responsibility of paternity pushed Widner to a desire of redemption, leaving the racist clan that he had helped funding, and coming back to the part of civil society.
Decisions of this sort are no free from consequences and it took years before Widner managed to be definitively out of the Neo Nazi American group, and being able to feel “human”.
Out of the Vinlanders Social Club, the tattoos that his body and face were carrying, identifying him as Neo Nazi and Racist, were a label that were hardly leaving room in the society, hence he decided to have them removed.
Byron’s wife, Julie, was sure that he would have accepted extreme acts in order to get rid of those symbols, (as he stated himself “I was ready to throw acid right to my face”), the woman was able to get in touch with Daryle Lamont Jenkins, antiracist activist, who put them in contact with Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
After several weeks of meeting and evaluations, the representatives of the SPLC decided that Widner was sincere in his desire of reenter completely inside the society and accepted to help him with the removal of the facial tattoos. The organisation found a plastic surgeon willing to execute the entire procedure and an anonymous donor who paid the 35.000 dollars necessary for the operation.
The whole suppression of Widner’s facial tattoos took approximately 1 year and a half and the man underwent around 12 different operation, defined by him as:
After a series of operations, the face of the man is once again free from racist symbols, even though the wounds remind him of the mistakes of his past. Besides the removal in his face, Widner eliminated all the other racist tattoos present all over his body, including the symbol of the Nazi SS group.
His story has been subject of several documentaries and of a film named “Skin”, recently come out.
Below, the trailer of Skin: