After learning that a Confederate flag shown at an anti-racism parade had been purchased in the community, Summerland Mayor Toni Boot confronted the business owner and destroyed all the Confederate flags from the store.
On July 20, around noon, Boot, along with two close friends, met with Allan Carter, owner of Your Dollar Store with More, where the flag had been purchased.
“You are perpetuating racism in our town and I will not stand for it,” Boot told Carter.
Over the past week, the community of Summerland has been faced with racism.
On the evening of July 13, the home of an Indo-Canadian family was vandalized and racist graffiti was spray-painted on the walls.
Then, on July 16, during an anti-racism parade in support of the family, a vehicle parked along the parade route displayed the Confederate flag while participants drove past.
The Confederate flag features a blue X with 13 white stars on a red background. It was adopted by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War in the 1860s. Today, many associate the flag with slavery and racism.
Carter said large bandanas with the Confederate flag had been pulled from the store shelves after hearing of the incident. He said the bandanas with the Confederate flag design would no longer be sold at the store.
Boot has compared the Confederate flag symbol with the swastika, used by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Why did you bring them in?” Boot asked.
“Because people want them,” Carter replied.
While Boot offered to buy all remaining bandanas with the Confederate flag, Carter gave them to her instead. There were around 30 bandanas.
Outside, in front of the store, Boot and her friends tore up the bandanas and threw the remains in the garbage.
Carter said the Confederate flag is not illegal to own or to sell in Canada.
“We didn’t break any laws.”
The bandanas were carried because of increased demand for the handkerchiefs to make masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said. When the store had ordered a stock of bandanas, a limited number of designs, including the flag, where available.
He added that the bandanas were pulled from the store shelves before Boot arrived on Saturday.
Carter is disappointed with the Saturday incident and is considering laying charges of bullying against Boot because of the incident.
“Her whole goal was to embarrass me,” Carter said. “She certainly bullied my staff.”
Boot said she has received some hateful emails as a result of the incident on Saturday. In addition, she said a group within the community is now calling for her resignation as a result of her destroying the flags.
While the Confederate flags have generated controversy, Boot said the initial issue which prompted the flag response needs to be remembered.
“What we should be talking about is what happened to the Lekhi family,” she said, referring to the family whose home was vandalized with racist graffiti including swastikas on July 13.