Mark Devera from San Jose, California went to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park for Father’s Day, but the supposed day of celebration was cut short after security personnel allegedly asked him to get out because of the tattoo on each of his biceps that read “Pinoy Pride.”
Speaking with KPIX, Devera said he was filming his son on a ride when security guards tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to leave the premises. “Excuse me, but you’re not allowed on the premises,’ basically that’s what he said,” Devera recounted.
“He goes, ‘Well, it’s against our policy. That’s gang-related’,” the guard told him.
Devera is inked on each biceps, “Pinoy” on the left and “Pride” on the right. The letters are in written in bamboo shape. “It’s an expression of me being proud to be Pinoy, a Filipino gentleman. I am proud of my country, I’m proud of who I am,” he told the TV station.
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He asked to speak to a manager, which he claims told him the tattoos are okay but he still needed to wear a shirt to cover them up if he wanted to remain in the park.
In the video clip he shared with the KPIX, Devera was heard pointing out to the guards that there were other people with tattoos in the park, like a man who had a Las Vegas tattoo on his arm. But they did not respond.
After the incident, Devera said he was eventually allowed by the manager to stay on the premises but he was followed and watched by the amusement park staff.
“I felt embarrassed. I’m being harassed here and violated. I felt like I’ve been stripped of my First Amendment. I’m a dad of four, who works Monday through Friday,” said Devera, who asserted during the interview that the tattoos were his expression of pride for his country, the Philippines.
A representative from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk denied in a statement that Devera was kicked out but was only asked to cover up his tattoos as they “may cause negative or aggressive reactions from some guests.”
The amusement park also said the incident started an internal investigation and discussion on the park’s approach to that kind of situation in the future. It added that it is in the process of determining if changes to its approach are warranted.
Devera posted on Facebook a photo of the amusement park’s rules and regulations, which enumerated what are prohibited. One item there says, “No disruptive, abusive or threatening behavior, no gang-related clothing, tattoos, gestures, area codes or activities.”
He told KPIX that he is raising awareness on the recent rise of anti-Asian hate. He said he’s proud to be Filipino and he should be able to express that.
Banner and thumbnail photo from @maccord_libertyvip on Instagram