A Bay Area man was told to conceal his Filipino pride tattoo by security personnel while relaxing at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Sunday for Father’s Day.

The victim, Mark Devera, has tattoos on both of his biceps that read “Pinoy Pride” —  a statement commonly used among Filipino-American men to display their respect for their nationality. However, he said security forced him out of the boardwalk while he was on the boardwalk with his son.

“Gang-Related” Tattoos

Personnel argued Devera’s tattoos could be perceived as gang-related tattoos. “It’s an expression of me being proud to be Pinoy, a Filipino gentleman. I’m proud of my country, you know, I’m proud of who I am,” Devera said.

Video footage of the incident recorded the argument and showed two security guards talking to Devera, who was off-camera, regarding his tattoos. In the video, the victim could be heard saying one of the guards told him to leave the park because of his tattoos.

Devera said a manager later approached him and the security guards, permitting him to stay on the boardwalk. However, he was told to hide his tattoos despite other people in the area also having tattoos of their own. Devera noted his son cried after being traumatized during the encounter.

“I felt embarrassed. I’m being harassed here and violated. I felt like I’ve been stripped of my First Amendment [right,” Devera said.

Later, a Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk representative claimed that the security guard did not try to force Devera away from the area but admitted to requesting the victim to hide his tattoos. They said the markings could cause “negative or aggressive reactions from some guests” despite being an expression of pride in the Philippines.

“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,” Kris Reyes, a spokesperson for the boardwalk, said, the San Francisco Gate reported.

While Reyes did not confirm whether or not the security guards really thought of the tattoos as being gang-related, she said they have opened an internal investigation and discussion to resolve the matter.