Those with exposed tattoos, body art or piercings are banned from the Riverside RV Park in Logan, according to a sign at the property’s entrance that drew comments from detractors and supporters this week.
The sign, which has been up for nearly 10 years, received almost no attention until earlier this week when someone posted a picture of it on Facebook.
Since then, park owner Rex Petersen has received several angry Facebook messages and phone calls from those who believe the sign is discriminatory.
Visitors to the park’s Facebook page said things like, “How dare he discriminate against tattooed people,” and called the owners a “ridiculous, discriminatory bunch of close-minded jerks.”
After a story about the situation was aired on Fox news, Petersen said a number of people called to say they support him.
“I got some calls from people who totally supported what I was doing and said more people ought to stand up,” he said.
Petersen doesn’t see the sign as discriminatory. He said the rule is designed to “protect his customers” and keep them comfortable.
He compared the tattoo ban to his restriction on large dogs.
Petersen acknowledged that large dogs — particularly breeds like pitbulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers — are often tame and friendly but said he has to keep them out of his park to make sure people are safe and comfortable. Similarly, although he believes not everyone with tattoos is a troublemaker, he said he enacted the ban on visible tattoos in the park in an effort to prevent problems.
Those who choose to cover their tattoos are welcome to stay, Petersen added.
“I do not prevent people from coming, I just ask them to cover it up,” he said.
“As long as they wear long pants and sleeves and don’t go around flaunting it like they’re a little demigod, I don’t cause them any problem. If they’re willing to behave themselves and act like a normal person, I have no problem.”
Rachel Jensen, a resident with visible tattoos who has lived in the park since the beginning of February, thinks those with tattoos who criticize Petersen are reinforcing his opinions about them.
“Honestly, I think the people who are doing the complaining are kind of reaffirming this man’s views on tattooed people,” she said. “You notice a lot of them are being pretty inconsiderate and rude about something that doesn’t really affect them.”
Jensen said she has never had a problem with discrimination from the manager.
“The manager is really awesome. I talk with him almost daily,” she said. “I think that if tattooed people take offense, maybe they should find a different park. It’s his park. Let him run it the way he wants to.”
Petersen said he originally put up the sign when men with tattoos visited his park and caused a disturbance. He later discovered that several of those men were on parole.
Ten years later, he keeps the sign because many people with tattoos continue to act “vulgar,” he said.
“The norm has changed, but the people who chewed me out and called me all sorts of bad names (on social media) set the stereotype that people with tattoos 10 years ago had,” he said. “They want everyone to bow down to them, and I’m just not going to do that.”
Even though the reasons people get tattoos have changed, those with body art still tend to be a bit scary, Petersen said.
“The element is still out there,” He said. “You see in the news that people who have been in prison or have killed someone had tattoos all over their arms and their neck, and they’re scary people. We don’t want them to take over our valley and our quiet, peaceful life and retirement.”
Petersen said he calls the police to throw people out of the park for disruptive behavior, but not for having tattoos. He said it’s been years since he’s had to call the police for any behavior problems.