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Retired law enforcement officer says tattoo shop denied him service

Man says tattoo shop refused him because he's retired law enforcement
Posted at 9:51 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 10:14:51-04

TULSA, Okla. — Father and daughter, Sam McCoy and Christine McCoy Barnes planned to get a tattoo on October 2nd at Black Gold Tattoo 11th and Harvard.

McCoy, a retired corrections officer in Okmulgee, wanted to get a tattoo of his police badge on his shoulder to commemorate his 43-years of law enforcement. Barnes wanted to get the US Army seal to commemorate her service in 12 years of service in the Army.

They were turned away by the business. McCoy and his daughter said it’s because McCoy is retired law enforcement, but the business said that is not the case.

Erin Spurlock Carlson, was another patron in the store and witnessed the incident.

"[The employee] came back a few minutes later and said, 'yeah nobody is going to be able to do that for you. Nobody feels comfortable, nobody feels comfortable. Something on the lines of that," said Carlson.

Carlson said she believe this was a "blatant refusal of service."

Under federal anti-discrimination laws Black Gold Tattoo has the legal right to refuse service for any reason excluding a protected class, such as race, color, national origin, or citizenship status.

2 Works for You reached out to Black Gold Tattoo.

Clay Holly, owner of Black Gold Tattoo, is in Florida and did not witness the event.

“We at Black Gold would like to go on record that Black Gold did not refuse service to law enforcement that day. This was an individual that had a request that the artists were not able to do that day and it was also explained that the image and size would not tattoo well. They were not told that Black Gold does not do tattoos on Cops. Our shop has in fact tattooed many law enforcement customers,” he told 2 Works for You.

Holly said he is a retired Tulsa firefighter and has nothing but respect for law enforcement and first responders. He said the shop does deny tattoos that are gang affiliated, racist or any facial tattoos. But in this case, Holly said it is a big misunderstanding.

Black Gold Tattoo posted a statement on their Facebook page on October 3 addressing an incident.

2 Works for You reached out to other tattoo artists in the area. They said they have also refused to tattoo based on their creative preferences. They recommend people research tattoo artists first and find one that matches their tattoo preference.

McCoy and Barnes did find another tattoo shop to get their commemorative tattoos and it is schedule for later this month.

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