A shopper perusing the merchandise at the Redwood Country Flea Market was so offended by a vendor selling Confederate and Nazi historical memorabilia, the person actually called 911.
Wallingford, Connecticut police were dispatched to the flea market to investigate.
The police chief William Wright tells News 8 “the reason no one was arrested was because the items were being sold on private property” — not to mention no laws were broken.
“There was a table set up with this material,” Wright says, according to Journal-Record. “It’s not criminally illegal, but obviously it offended this person. It causes some people a sense of being uncomfortable. Certainly the owner could preclude this merchandise.”
The town resident who called 911 said there were helmets with swastikas, images of Hitler and other historical Nazi items.
“I was shaking and almost vomiting,” he tells the paper. “I had to run. My grandmother had numbers,” referring to the digits the Nazis would tattoo on prisoners.
The caller complained that the Confederate items were “not authentic” and were replicas of flags and weapons.
He says the seller told him “he was selling so much he can’t keep it in stock.”
Jason Teal, president of the Meriden-Wallingford NAACP, was contacted to see what he thought.
“It’s difficult because it’s on private property and it’s considered free speech,” Teal says.
According to the paper, the complainant also called Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., who promptly called Chief Wright.
“I had to check with the chief over what is actionable and what isn’t,” according to the mayor. “Unless something violates state or federal law, there’s no jurisdiction for government to do anything. We had to ask, is it something controlled by law?”
And the assistant regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Connecticut sees a difference between authentic memorabilia and “cheap replicas” “used as symbols of hate.”
“It’s unfortunate that under the law people have the right to sell these things; but it doesn’t mean they should sell these things,” Joshua Sayles says.
“It’s not a crime but I would call it hate. People look at the situation in Charleston and say it’s down in the South. But this stuff is here in Connecticut.”