La Ronde theme park orders man to cover up Bob Marley T-shirt
Published Wednesday, August 18, 2010 3:40PM EDT
A man plans to file a human-rights complaint against an amusement park after security guards told him to cover up his Bob Marley T-shirt or leave the premises.
But Montreal's La Ronde theme park insists it didn't have a problem with the shirt's portrait of the late reggae legend -- just the cluster of green, marijuana-shaped leaves that surround it.
La Ronde security guards approached Brunaud Moise earlier this month and ordered him to turn the white T-shirt inside out.
Moise, who is black, alleges staff singled him out because they associated a black man wearing a Marley shirt with something criminal.
"The link is the association of blackness with deviance," said Anthony Morgan, a spokesman for Quebec's Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, the group representing Moise's case.
"It's more than unfortunate, it's a violation of his human rights and it's discriminatory, and it shouldn't take place."
Moise, 32, is seeking moral and punitive damages from the Six Flags-owned park, as well as reimbursement for two entry tickets and a public apology for himself, his brother and Marley's family.
"The onus is on Six Flags to explain to me, the Marley family, fans of Bob Marley around the world, how this T-shirt is deemed 'inappropriate' to ordinary families," Moise said in a statement.
But a spokesman for La Ronde indicates that only the pictures of pot leaves on the shirt were deemed offensive under the Six Flags' corporate-wide dress code.
"It's not the image of Bob Marley that's in question here," Martin Roy said Wednesday.
"It's the dozens of marijuana leaves on the shirt that were judged by the employees as not family friendly."
Roy did not want to comment on Moise's allegations the guards' actions were discriminatory, but noted one of the security agents involved is a black man.
La Ronde says on its website it strictly enforces a dress code that states clothing with rude, vulgar or offensive language and graphics are not permitted at any time.
At first, Moise, who was visiting the park with his teenage brother, complied with the guards' order by changing his shirt.
But after making the switch, the medical technology specialist decided to lodge a verbal complaint with a park supervisor before leaving with his brother.
The Montrealer alleges the guards' actions violated his freedom of expression.
"This has to stop," Moise said in the statement.
"Today it is Bob Marley, tomorrow, it could be Malcolm X, (singer) Erykah Badu or even (reggae performer) Damian Marley."