Mike Chan's tattoo needle buzzes gently as he draws a design on his customer's thigh—a figure wearing a helmet, goggles, and mask. Dipping his needle into black, red, and yellow ink, Chan hunches over his client's leg as he painstakingly brings to life the image of a Hong Kong protester clad in protective gear. Using his art is Chan's way of contributing to Hong Kong's anti-government protest movement, which has consumed the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for months. While hard-core protesters tangling with riot police have become the movement's most visible symbol, others are using skin and ink to show support. "I am actually just a peaceful protester. I really want to go to the front line, but I don't have the courage yet to stand and fight against the government," said Mary, who was getting the tattoo, her first. She chose her thigh because she could easily cover it.
Many protesters have sought to conceal their identities with face masks, reports the AP, out of fear of arrest. Mary, 29, said she has taken part in mass protests that involved peaceful activity. But she added, "I really admire ... protesters who fight at the front and are not afraid of getting arrested or being beaten up. Not everyone has this courage." Chan said demand took off after he started doing the protest tattoos in July. "I do these resistance tattoos free of charge because I see this as part of protesting," he says. After about half an hour, Chan is finished and Mary shows off her thigh, now decorated with a stylized figure of a protester wearing a yellow helmet, goggles, and mask with pink filters. Even though it's permanent, Mary noted she'd never regret it. "You actually can't speak out much or do anything much," she said. "This is the only thing that you can do to remember this for the rest of your life."
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