06/27/2019 UPDATE: An outdoor recreation center pool that faced backlash for its dress code is planning to close permanently at the end of the summer.
The Outdoor Recreation Center of Wendell, N.C. announced that Sept. 2 will be its final day of operation, according to ABC 11.
In an email sent out to members, ABC 11 reported, owners Johnny and Teresa Freeman wrote that they have decided to retire and spend more time with their family.
An outdoor recreation center pool is facing social media backlash after people pointed out how their rules are racist, specifically discriminating against black people.
The pool, located in Wendell, a town in Wake County, N.C., is privately owned by John and Teresa Freeman. An image of the controversial rules sparked a heated debate — mostly online — between the community members and pool owners.
According to ABC 11, the pool owners are now threatening legal action against people who are calling them racist. A community member, who declined to be identified, posted a now-deleted image of the rules on Facebook, describing them as “absolutely disgusting” and urged people in the town and surrounding areas not to spend money at the establishment.
The community member told Yahoo Lifestyle that this isn’t the first time the pool owners have been racist. “If you look on the owners personal page they have made some disrespectful posts in regards to other races on the past,” she said. “When asked about the rules the owners stated they weren't racist because they have black friends and a black son-in-law. They stated these were the rules: follow them or don’t come to the pool.”
According to the resident, the owners quickly took down the image of the rules after they were confronted, and confirmed that she personally reached out to them.
After being barraged with comments on social media, the owners wrote a defensive post, which has since been deleted, claiming that the establishment and the owners are not racist. According to the post, the facility included the “no hair attachments policy” on a recommendation by the Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO) — a credential managed by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, which warned against clogged strainers and pumps.
However, the public was unhappy with this response, claiming the language used clearly indicates that it’s racist.
“If these people weren't blatantly discriminating against POC, they'd have just said ‘all artificial hair must be wrapped/covered’ and sell wraps and swim caps etc. like they do swim diapers,” commented one person.
“Pure ignorance. It makes my blood boil to see such racist and bogus rules,” another added. One woman said she experienced the discrimination firsthand. “He told me I couldn’t get in his pool because of my hair. He told me my hair could fall out and clog his drain,” her comment reads. “These are crochet. These ain’t coming out without scissors. Y’all I was so hurt and devastated and had to explain to my kids why we couldn’t swim. I thought it was just me.”
While many were furious with the rules, others pointed out that since the pool is a private establishment, the owners have the right to decide who is able to use it.
“If you don’t like the rules then don’t go!” a person commented. “This is a private business and it’s within their rights to make the rules. Unless you own a business of this type you can’t know what problems they have had that prompted the owners to make these rules.”
Though John and Teresa Freeman previously defended their stance, they later issued an apology in a Facebook post, writing that they should have worded their rules more carefully to say “no artificial hair” instead of specifically dreadlocks or weaves. However, this post has also since been deleted.
The Freemans chose to, instead, adopt a much harsher course of action. John told ABC 11 that he and his wife will talk to their lawyer and plan to bring people who have publicly called them racist to court.
Freeman told ABC 11 “if they call me racist, they can put it in writing and we will deal with it at thee courthouse.”
Representatives from ORC Wendell and National Swimming Pool Foundation did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment.
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