Defenders of slavery suffered an embarrassing public defeat after their community turned out to not be as racist as they had assumed.
"A handful of people carrying flags have targeted Hillsborough, North Carolina for a few years in large part because of steps taken to limit Confederate flags and symbols in the county and towns, and a ban against divisive symbols like the Confederate battle flag in the Orange County Schools dress code. Some of the flag bearers are affiliated with the pro-Confederate group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County," The News & Observer reports.
The Confederacy seceded from America to preserve the institution of slavery. Over 365,000 United States armed forces service members died putting down their insurrection in the American Civil War.
"On July 27, Matthew Shepherd, who owns Matthew’s Chocolates, at 104 N. Churton St., encountered a pro-Confederate demonstration about 100 feet from his shop’s front door," the newspaper reported. "As he walked past, rolling his eyes, one of them turned to him, saying, “boy in the pink shirt, why don’t you go back to your chocolate shop,” he said in an interview Monday."
He told the newspaper he had also heard from customers worried about crossing the street while the Confederate protesters were there.
Police said there was nothing they could do.
So Shepherd put up a sign outside his store reading, “Burn a Rebel Flag ... Get a Free Chocolate!"
Police told Shepherd he shouldn't put out the sign, but he did so anyway.
The supporters of the Confederacy posted a picture with the sign, posting it online.
"The sign went viral when three men with the Confederate group posted a photo of themselves behind the sign on social media, evoking angry responses nationwide and overwhelming the shop’s Facebook page and Yelp review site," The News & Observer.
Shepherd told the paper he received "many, many death threats."
But the community also rallied around Shephered.
Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action held a rally on Saturday in support of the store.
"The rally was a boon for business at Matthew’s Chocolates, where the line of customers stretched down the sidewalk. Supporters on both sides of Churton Street waved American and rainbow flags, listened to music, and chatted while holding up signs against hate," the newspaper reported.
The outpouring from the community was so substantial that the store had to close on Sunday.
"We have sold out of everything! There is nothing to sell. No gelato, no chocolates," the store posted on Facebook. "Thank you ALL for your support, it is overwhelming and I am touched by the love and support pouring in from all over the state."