RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com) — Even as national retailers remove Confederate flags from shelves and websites, some Southern California businesses continue to sell them.
Inside Big John’s Surplus in Riverside you’ll find all types of flags for sale, including the Confederate flag.
“Today a woman came in and she said she wanted to make sure she got her Confederate flag before they were not able to be sold,” store employee Joy Ritchie said.
Others consider the flag a symbol of racism.
Many retail giants, like Wal-Mart and Amazon, are no longer selling it following the recent killings in South Carolina.
State Senator Isadore Hall, of Compton, applauds the retail giants following his request for states to remove the flag from government buildings as well.
“There’s a lot more to be done but I think it’s a step in the right direction. It sends a clear message that hate in America is not for sale,” Hall said.
Others disagree with removing the flag from shelves.
“Just because one person goes out and makes it a symbol of hatred and racism doesn’t mean that everyone who uses the flag sees it as that,” said customer Chris Vandenberg. “Personally, I see it as a symbol of history and that the American people will always fight for what they believe in, even though my family fought for the Union.”
CBS2/KCAL9 found several retailers across the Southland, including in the Inland Empire, selling the flag in stores and online.
However, it’s illegal for the State of California itself to sell any Confederate memorabilia, for example at gift shops inside state buildings, following a change in state law last year, spearheaded by Hall after reports fake Confederate money was being sold as memorabilia.
“On state facilities and state buildings it’s not appropriate,” Hall said.
The senator acknowledges privately-owned businesses are protected by the First Amendment when it comes to selling or buying the flag.
A spokesperson for Big John’s Surplus Store says it represents history but admits it’s not a big seller.
According to the retailer, only two Confederate flags have been sold within the last six months — one of them on Tuesday.