SAN JOSE (KPIX)-- A San Jose man who wanted to spend the day with his son at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Father's Day claims he was instead kicked out of the popular amusement park because of his arm tattoos.
Meanwhile, a boardwalk spokesperson denied Mark Devera was ever kicked off the property.
"'Excuse me, but you're not allowed on the premises,' basically, that's what he said," said Devera. "He goes, 'Well, it's against our policy.' That it's gang-related. I said, 'Gang-related?'"
Devera shared his tattoos on social media that show "Pinoy" on one arm and "Pride" on the other. Two words, he said, that have nothing to do with gangs and everything to do with his ethnicity and his country, the Philippines.
"It's an expression of me being proud to be Pinoy, a Filipino gentleman," he said. "I'm proud of my country, you know, I'm proud of who I am."
Devera pulled out his cell phone to record the guards after he said he was tapped on the shoulder while he was recording his young son who was on a ride. He said he was confused at first, and then angry when he realized the guards had mistaken his tattoo for being gang-affiliated.
"For Pinoy pride on my arm, this gentleman right here was telling me to get out of the park, basically because I have tattoos," Devera could be heard saying in cell phone video he shared with KPIX. "So you're stating I can't be in this park having a tattoo on my back?"
Devera asked to speak to a manager who he claims took a look at his tattoos and said they were fine. The manager, however, stated Devera still had to cover up the ink with a shirt if he planned to stay at the park.
"I was just, like, shocked," said Devera. "I said you're not going to talk to that guy and tell him to leave because he's representing Las Vegas? And all I heard was crickets. They couldn't even respond, and I was like, 'Wow.'"
Devera said there were multiple park guests with tattoos, including one man he recorded on his cell phone with tattoos on his arms, legs as well as neck. The man is seen wearing a "Las Vegas" tank top, and his leg tattoo reads "LV."
To make matters worse, Devera said he was followed and watched by security. He said his son was upset and cried after he was confronted by park staff.
Devera, who said he raises awareness about recent anti-Asian hate, told KPIX he's proud to be Filipino and he should be able to express that.
"I felt embarrassed," he said. "I'm being harassed here and violated. I felt like I've been stripped off of my First Amendment. I'm a dad of four, who works Monday through Friday."
A spokesperson for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk released this statement to KPIX:
Statement from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
As an open-gate, free-admission amusement park, all Guests and their unique forms of expression are welcome. Some tattoos and other forms of expression may cause negative or aggressive reactions from some guests. At times we might ask Guests to cover these types of tattoos or clothing. When contacting a guest our goal is to have a respectful dialogue about our policies and our efforts to ensure everyone has a safe experience at the park.
With regards to this specific incident, the gentleman was not kicked off the Boardwalk. We did engage him in a dialogue and asked him to cover his tattoo out of an abundance of caution. After a lengthy discussion he agreed and remained at the park. However, this incident has caused us to engage in an internal investigation and discussion regarding our approach to this type of issue and we are working to determine if changes to our approach are warranted.
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