Canadian retailers pulling confederate flag from stores following Charleston shooting
WATCH: The Confederate flag, a symbol of Southern pride that carries a racist legacy, is disappearing across the U.S. After the governor of South Carolina agreed to finally remove it from outside the state capitol building, in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, retailers have now begun pulling it from stores and websites. Eric Sorensen reports.
Calls for the confederate flag to be removed from the statehouse grounds in Charleston, South Carolina following last week’s deadly shooting has led retailers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to remove the flag from their shelves.
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, was the first major store to make the announcement on Monday, saying in a statement that they “have taken steps to remove all items promoting the Confederate flag from our assortment” both online and in-stores.
WATCH: Hundreds of South Carolina residents turned up at the State’s capitol building to protest the flying of the Confederate flag on Tuesday
Walmart Canada said they do not sell any confederate flag themed items in their stores.
A search of Walmart’s Canadian website Tuesday morning turned up zero results for the flag.
Vancouver-based The Flag Shop, a chain of store specializing in flags, tweeted Monday that it too would stop selling the flag.
“I could no longer sit back and wait for things to blow over,” said the Flag Shop’s Susan Braverman. “It’s when people ask why we sell a flag that represents hate.”
WATCH: The backlash over the Confederate flag in the U.S. is hitting close to home tonight. A Vancouver store owner is pulling the flag off the shelves. Catherine Urquhart explains.
A spokesperson for Ebay confirmed in an email that the online retailer would be banning Confederate flags.
“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism. This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance,” according to the statement.
Canadian Tire said in a statement that while they do not sell confederate flags, they do sell some “confederate themed merchandise” and have asked stores to indefinitely remove the items.
Amazon reportedly confirmed Tuesday that it would pull down all confederate flags from its website.
But, it appears, despite the controversy, sales of the confederate flag on Amazon have spiked in recent days.
The Dartmouth Flag Store, a shop near Halifax, Nova Scotia told Global News Tuesday it was pulling the confederate flag from its stores.
Debbie Hartlen, a manager of the Dartmouth store, said the decision was sparked by the shooting in Charleston and the growing opposition to the flag.
“The decision came as a result of both events in south Carolina with the murder last week and then last nights decisions by the South Carolina governor to no longer fly the flag at the statehouse. In support of that decision, we removed them, and I’m quite happy to do that,” she said.
Dylann Storm Roof, the white suspect accused of killing nine black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and, according to a friend of his, feared “blacks were taking over the world.”
Photographs of Roof have appeared since the shooting showing him holding a confederate flag as well as other racist regalia including the flag of Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa which he’d emblazoned on a jacket.
The Confederate Flag in Canada
While the confederate flag is intrinsically linked to the southern United States, the losing side of the American civil war, and racism since integration, the flag has also, sporadically, found a home in Canada.
A southern BBQ restaurant, Hillbilly Heaven, displayed the flag on its storefront in Hamilton for a brief time in 2013 before going out of business. The restaurant’s owner, Cameron Bailey, said in the wake of protests at the time, that “no one should be complaining” because it wasn’t illegal.
“If you want it to come down, take me to court and make it against the law. But until that’s the case, I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said.
Also in 2013, Sutton District High School, a York Region school just north of Toronto, banned confederate flags after a number of students wore the symbol on bandanas, belt buckles, backpacks and put it across their truck windows, according to The Toronto Star. The school explained the flag’s history of racism to the students before banning the symbol outright.
As early as 1861, the year the American civil war started, some Canadians disapproved of the confederate flag flying north of the border. A New York Times report dated Aug. 5, 1861 entitled “The Confederate Flag in Canada” quoted a Hamilton newspaper’s report that a confederate flag had been hoisted in the city and hastily removed by a police officer.
“Policeman GRAHAM was the first to observe the obnoxious emblem, and removed it as speedily as he could, or it is probable that mischief might have been caused by its exhibition,” according to the report.
© 2015 Shaw Media