Walmart and Sears have announced they will stop selling products featuring the Confederate flag, a week after a white gunman killed nine people at a black church in South Carolina.
The news came the same day as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley called on lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from state capitol grounds and six state lawmakers announced a bill to do just that.
And now it appears the backlash against the flag, long seen as a symbol of racism and slavery, has spread to Canada as well. Vancouver-based The Flag Shop has announced on Twitter it is suspending sales of the Confederate flag. The chain followed that up with a tweet promoting its transgender flag.
The Canadian Press reports:
SASKATOON - A Vancouver-based chain of stores that sells the Confederate flag says that "after much consideration," it is halting the sale of the controversial banners until further notice.
The decision, posted by The Flag Shop on its Twitter account, follows a statement by the chain's president saying she doesn't want to "react hastily" by pulling the flag from shelves.
Susan Braverman had said in a statement to CKOM radio in Saskatoon that she wanted to consult with franchise owners about continuing to sell the controversial banner before making a decision.
The store's tweet said more details about the decision would be "coming soon."
The flag is a contentious symbol in the United States, and there has been renewed criticism of it as a symbol of white power following deadly shootings at a South Carolina church last week.
Wal-Mart said Monday that it is removing all items from its U.S. stores and website that feature the Confederate flag. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said its goal is to not offend anyone with the products it offers.
Judy Denham, who owns a franchise of The Flag Shop in Saskatoon, said she had removed Confederate flags from display, but said a decision on whether to stop selling them must come from head office.
Braverman, who is based in Vancouver, said the store there has stopped displaying the flag and the chain doesn't endorse the sale of racist symbols.
"We have 13 stores across Canada, although I am the franchisor and can make a unilateral decision about removing the Confederate flag from our product line, that's not how I operate," Braverman said in the statement.
"The Confederate flag is not the first flag that has been used by some groups for racists purposes. It has, however, a historical background and so it’s important that we not react hastily."
The alleged Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, adopted the Confederate flag as a symbol of racial hatred. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley cited this as one of the reasons the flag should be removed from the grounds of the state's legislature.
Denham said she stopped displaying the flag in her Saskatoon store to acknowledge what happened. She said it's popular with younger buyers, but that they don't have the same attachment to it as southerners in the U.S.
"I think they see it more as a fun novelty flag — Dukes of Hazard. They like to put it on their motorcycles or ATVs or their trucks," Denham said.
If she has to, she said she'll still sell it.
"I will sell it out of a box out of the back," she said. (CKOM)
— With files from The Associated Press
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