A sign excluding black people from a future business is enraging some people in a small town. Now, the man who put it up is speaking out.
It's a sign generations of people may have never seen. Yet a Clark County business man says it's his right to discriminate.
Federal and State law says if the business is open to the public, prohibiting people based on race is illegal. If the man's proposed gentlemen's club was going to be a private club, then an African American historian says he could discriminate. Legalities aside, his is a sign that many say is appalling.
“If I’ve got a problem with you it's going to be on the front of my store,” says Mark Prior.
Prior posted his 'No Negros Allowed' sign after he says he had some problems with black people in the past and needed to make a policy against them.
“I'm going to stick to my guns because I think I have the right as a business owner to reject service to anyone. It's not all the black people there are just a few bad ones," Prior says of his problems in the past.
Prior wants to open a gentlemen's club in a building next to the Abbotsford city hall and library. He says he moved his sign inside after someone with the city asked him to remove it.
"Our mistake is sometimes we look for logic in something that is just plain stupid," says Dr. Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, an African American historian at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Ducksworth-Lawton says she feels Prior is out to get attention. She says the second he opens his business, he'll be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"It's insulting to think that someone automatically sees your skin color and thinks that you're inferior and that you're not fit to be around. On the other hand, if they’re of this kind of intelligence, I’m not going to worry about it too much,” says Ducksworth-Lawton.
People in Abbotsford say it's a sign they don't welcome in their town
“It does bother me a lot that he has something like that up. My whole family lives here. All my kids, and what if my kids see it?” says a woman named Ashley who lives in Abbotsford.
But, Prior says it's his right as an American and as a business owner to decide who's welcome; a right he says he'll take all the way to court if he has to.
“That's the policy. I’m going to stick to my guns,” Prior says.
Prior told WEAU he feels people are making too big of a deal out of his sign. He says this is America and he's entitled to his opinions.
He also said it’s not just black people he’s going to ban from his future establishment. He says he has a problem with certain white people as well, but he couldn’t just put a lengthy list of names on his building so he felt ‘No Negros Allowed’ was the best policy.
Prior says he hopes to have his gentlemen's club open to the public by Friday. His previous plans to open a grocery store and his own sheriff's department haven't worked out.
Our phone call to the mayor of Abbotsford was not immediately returned.