There’s a controversy brewing at Bethel, Connecticut’s Molten Java coffee house after an employee took a customer’s Confederate flag hat and diced it into pieces in an incident that was recorded and posted online.
Bethel native Stan Weston was back in town while on leave from the U.S. Air Force and went to Molten Java on Thursday evening to visit with old friends donning a Confederate flag hat he recently found in his grandfather’s belongings, according to the Danbury News Times.
“It was open mic night, and I was playing the banjo, so I didn’t think much about wearing the hat,” Weston said. “It’s just an old family heirloom. I wasn’t wearing it as any kind of racial symbol. I just recently found it among some of my grandfather’s old stuff.”
That’s when a female employee who was not on duty decided to make a statement. An acquaintance of Weston snatched the hat off his head mid-set, he said, and moments later the female employee returned with a knife to slash it to pieces on stage.
A member of the audience, Mariah Vaughan, recorded the incident and posted it to Facebook, where it’s drawn a lot of reactions, from those calling for a boycott of Molten Java to those who support the snatch-and-slash, according to the Bethel Patch.
In the video, the employee slashed the Confederate symbol from the trucker hat and threw the piece at Weston, who tried unsuccessfully to stop the woman.
“I used to go to Molten Java when I was younger, and it was always a very inclusive place,” Weston said. “People weren’t brandishing weapons back then. I was just shocked that someone took such a violent approach.”
So was coffee shop owner Wendy Cahill.
“What she did was wrong,” Cahill said. “If they had a verbal conversation about the hat, I would have supported her. The sentiment I agree with, but not her actions. Everyone is welcome here but they have to be willing to engage in civil discourse.”
It’s unclear whether the unnamed employee faces any disciplinary action as a result of the stunt.
At least one person called Bethel Police, who negotiated a solution: the employee paid Weston $20 for the hat and he agreed not to press charges, Capt. Steven Pugner said.
Weston said he later reconsidered and asked Bethel Police to press charges against the woman, but they refused.
“They told me the case was closed and there was nothing more they could do,” he said.
Molten Java posted to Facebook that the ordeal has “damaged my life and this community so much.
“I hope you are happy with what you’ve accomplished,” the store’s Facebook page posted in response to the video. “I do nothing but try to make Bethel and our community a better place. …Anyone on this post who has made judgements and shared this information … I don’t owe you anything. Stan is the only person who deserves to know the outcome.”