NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A store owner in New Orleans' French Quarter has told a newspaper she will stop selling items such as a Nazi flag and Jim Crow-era items with racist caricatures of black people. The leader of a group that combats antisemitism and racism had called for their removal.
“It is deeply troubling that items so clearly associated with hateful ideologies are so prominently displayed for sale in the French Quarter,” Aaron Ahlquist, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s South Central Region, wrote in a statement to The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate. “We cannot allow for hate to become normalized, and that certainly includes profiting from the symbols of hate.”
Rare Finds owner Sue Saucier first told the newspaper, “The items in my store are historical items. We don’t mean to offend anyone when we sell these things. They represent history. They do not represent my sentiments.”
However, she called back minutes later on Thursday and said she would remove the items Friday.
“I’ve consulted with my attorney, and at this time, we have done some reflection on the issue, and we are going to remove the items from the store,” she said. “They will not be for sale.”
A call Friday by The Associated Press to a number found online for the store reached only a prompt for an access number.
Ahlquist said he learned about the store after an out-of-town visitor went there and then told a friend, who got in touch with the Anti-Defamation League.
Items with racist imagery were prominently featured but were a relatively small portion of the store's inventory, the newspaper reported.
The flag behind the main counter was priced at $1,695. A 10-inch statuette of a hooded Klansman, priced at $1,295, was in a display case near the front of the store. A sign said it once was placed in front of buildings where the Ku Klux Klan was meeting. Just inside the door was a statue of a chimpanzee dressed like a jockey. A sign described it as a “1950’s 27-inch tall black Americana cement lawn jockey. $495. Hard to find.”
Historian Lawrence Powell, who retired from Tulane University in 2012 after 34 years teaching there, said the claim that the items were there for history is weakened because the signs didn't provide context such as description of the atrocities carried out by Nazis, Klansmen or slave owners.
“She has the right to display it and sell it — that’s the freedom of commerce,” Powell said. “But I think it represents terrible judgment, and racial and ethnic insensitivity, and maybe worse.”