A Connecticut man suffered physical revulsion when he spotted Nazi and Confederate merchandise last week at a flea market near his home.
The man, who declined to use his name in media reports, said he saw a vendor selling the items at Redwood Flea Market in Wallingford and contacted police, reported the Record Journal.
“I was shaking and almost vomiting,” the man said, adding that he was Jewish and the grandson of a concentration camp survivor. “I had to run. My grandmother had numbers (tattooed on her body by Nazis).”
The man said the shop owner told him he had been selling so many Confederate weapons and flags that he could barely keep them in stock since the shooting of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in South Carolina.
Police investigated the man’s complaint but said the merchant had not broken any laws, and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said he looked into the matter after the man contacted his office.
“I had to check with the chief over what is actionable and what isn’t,” Dickinson said. “Unless something violates state or federal law, there’s no jurisdiction for government to do anything. We had to ask, is it something controlled by law?”
The flea market’s owner, Ken Dubar, told the newspaper that the vendor did not have as much Nazi and Confederate memorabilia as the man contended, but he admitted some of the items might be counterfeit.
Counterfeit laws generally protect trademark holders, although federal law prohibits the sale of counterfeit military goods.
A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League said he did not consider the purchase of authentic war pieces by serious collectors to be a moral issue, but he said most of those items are cheap replicas purchased as symbols of hate.
“It’s unfortunate that under the law people have the right to sell these things, but it doesn’t mean they should sell these things,” said Joshua Sayles, assistant regional director of the state’s ADL chapter. “It’s not a crime but I would call it hate. People look at the situation in Charleston and say it’s down in the South. But this stuff is here in Connecticut.”