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Mesa, Arizona Anti Tattoos


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Anyone know more on this? Why is Mesa so anti-tattoos? Or is it Arizona's overall right wing governing system?


Court: Mesa tattoo artists’ free speech denied

by Art Thomason on Nov. 04, 2011, under Arizona Republic News

The Mesa City Council denied two tattoo artists the constitutional protections of free speech by rejecting their efforts to open a business two years ago, the Arizona Court of Appeals said Thursday.

The decision — a first by an Arizona court on free-speech protections for tattoo artists — reversed a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling that sided with the city.

“We hold that obtaining a tattoo, applying a tattoo and engaging in the business of tattooing are exercises of free speech entitled to protection as a fundamental right under the Arizona Constitution and the United States Constitution,” the Appeals Court’s presiding judge, Ann Timmer, wrote in the 31-page opinion.

The case now returns to Superior Court for additional arguments.

The appellate court was asked by the Goldwater Institute to determine whether the City Council denied the constitutional rights of the two tattoo artists by denying them a business permit.

The case stems from the council’s March 2009 decision to deny a permit for Ryan and Laetitia Coleman, who live in Nice, France, to open Angel Tattoo in a strip mall on the southeastern corner of Dobson and Baseline roads. During the council meeting, several neighbors said they feared that the tattoo parlor would drag down the area’s quality of life. The shopping center has been plagued by vacancies since a Bashas’ supermarket closed there several years ago.

The Colemans then sued Mesa, alleging their rights had been violated. Last year, a county judge upheld the city’s right to govern tattoo parlors under a “council use permit” process that gives the city wide discretion to approve or deny certain types of businesses.

Clint Bolick, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute and director of its Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, argued for the Colemans, calling the permit process “subjective.”

The question about how tattooing is free speech was raised by judges during the hearing.

At one point, Judge Patrick Irvine asked Bolick, “Why is tattooing speech at all? And if it’s speech, why isn’t a hairdresser speech? People spend a lot of time on their hair, and they’re making a statement with it, and so why isn’t a hairdresser speech?”

Bolick replied, “The only difference … is the medium that’s being used is not canvas but someone’s skin. And it’s even more important than a painting because it becomes a part of the person.”

Scott Holcomb, the attorney for Mesa, argued that a business, not free speech, was being regulated.

Timmer ruled the Superior Court had erred by dismissing the Colemans’ complaint “without affording an opportunity to develop a factual record” and ordered additional testimony.

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I agree that arizona only needs the one coleman, and I also don't see the denial of opening a shop in a certain location as out of the ordinary. I had to convince our landlord that we were "good people" before she would allow us to rent from her. She had a belief in a certain tattoo stigma of bad bad folks associated with tattoo. The city I live in has ordinances against all kinds of stuff. No booze within x miles of a church. No boobie bars within the city limits. No trash within view of a street. No weeds in your yard. etc etc etc.

I can't say Arizona is pro tattoo or anti tattoo. I would say that neighborhood seemed to be the ones that didn't want the shop around in the first place. And, why would you want to start a business in a place that probably won't support you? Were there no other locations that were suitable for them and perhaps more conducive to what they were trying to do. I mean, I don't think it is the only strip mall in the greater phoenix area.

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it's a little comforting to know someone still thinks tattoos could be dangerous to society. i think though, denying a business is a separate issue from free speech. i think that the ordinances like no alcohol sales or tattoo services within so many feet of a church is a violation of the separation of church and state. where is the ordinance that states if i don't like religion, i cant have a church within a 1000 feet of my house?

isn't arizona plagued with outrageous forclosures? they should have bought a house super cheap, gutted it and set up a nice shop in it.. i imagine the local tax agency, the irs, and health dept might get upset if they didn't get their cut of the money but at least they would still be exercising their freedom of speech. if people got upset, say it's not a business all money received are strictly donations, "we're just exercising our artistic expression" then make an issue of it when they persue a court case against the "illegal business". the irony in their denying a business in the first place then wanting to get money from the same business would generate some publicity at that point.

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Yeah, it is pretty common for cities to have codes that limit or restrict certain types of businesses. I think it is a stretch to argue that they are restricting free speech though. I know of several towns around here that wont allow the boobie bars so most are located in the unincorporated County. Some cities allow them. I know there are no tattoo shops and I'm pretty sure there are no pawn shops in our city limits and I am sure that is a code situation. People can always ask for a variance but it doesnt mean they will get it. I dont think we have anything that limits anything close to a church but we definitely have laws about certain businesses near schools and stiffer penalties for certain crimes committed within a certain distance from a school. I guess if a church runs a school it would apply to them as well.

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  • 10 months later...
  • 2 months later...

I live here in mesa, its all about the mormons. I hate to say it but this state is pretty much ass backwards, they legalize mj, but have no where to get it, then when they opened up dispensers, they bust them? Then, grow your own, o wait , now you cant grow your own, all the time the state government has collected millions of tax payers dollars for the mj program, total scam!

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