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Neo-Nazi paraphernalia for sale at gun show on NC fairgrounds draws complaints

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 17, 2021

Martha Quillin The News & Observer

RALEIGH, N.C. — Managers of the Dixie Gun and Knife Classic asked a vendor to remove neo-Nazi patches from a sale table Sunday after a complaint to the N.C. State Fairgrounds, where the event was held this weekend.

Sarah Ray, spokeswoman for the N.C. State Fair, said she learned of the items — applique patches bearing the swastika and the SS bolts — early Sunday when the N.C. State Fairgrounds and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services were tagged on Twitter in a post that asked, “Why are you guys allowing vendors to sell Nazi merchandise at the Dixie Gun and Knife show?”

The posts showed a photo of the items on display next to patches and other goods featuring the Confederate flag, as well as items showing support for President Donald Trump.

Ray said Sunday that after seeing the post, she contacted Missy Fields of Ken Fields Promotions, which puts on the show four times a year at the fairgrounds. The shows have been held at the fairgrounds since the 1980s, Ray said.

Ray said the N.C. State Fairgrounds, which leases the Jim Graham Building for the gun and knife show and dozens of other events each year, has no policy on what can be offered for sale.

“As a state facility, we stand behind the 1st Amendment,” Ray said. But she said the promotion company does have such a policy and she notified Missy Fields to let her know of the complaint, which Ray said Fields said she would handle.

When the show reopened Sunday morning, Ray said, the items had been removed from the floor.

Fields was at the show on Sunday but declined to comment.

The Anti-Defamation League identifies the swastika and the SS bolts as hate symbols often used by white-supremacist organizations and movements.

Ray didn’t have a copy of any policy addressing the sale or display of items featuring hate symbols but said Fields’ company has such a policy on its website. Under “conditions,” the company says, “All political material must be pre-approved by Show Manager,” and, “Obscene, racial, or party literature prohibited.”

Media interviews, photos and video are expressly forbidden as well.

A notification on the promoters’ website says that shows may be smaller than normal because of gathering limits designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Signs on the doors of the Graham Building reminded visitors that masks are mandatory while in the building, and at least one announcement was made over the public address system Sunday afternoon to remind people to wear masks.

However, many of those who were perusing or selling merchandise were unmasked.

The show is billed as the Carolinas’ biggest buy-sell-trade show of its kind, with vendors offering new and antique guns and knives, military and sporting guns and accessories, including ammunition, holsters, sights, and body armor. Shoppers also can find hunting, camping and outdoor recreational equipment and clothing. Representations of the Confederate flag could be found on a range of items for sale on Sunday.

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(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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