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Confederate flag merchandise pulled from Hampton History Museum

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jul 20, 2015

Hampton, Va. - The Confederate flag conflict continues.

At the Hampton City Council earlier this month, resident Hugh Bassette held up a hat with a Confederate flag on it in protest, calling for all items with the Confederate flag on it be removed from the Hampton's History Museum.

" I bought this a couple of years ago. The museum sells these hats and on the hats there is an emblem of the Confederate flag which as a black man, I find offensive," Bassette told the councilmembers. "I would say it is a part of history and it belongs in the museum part, but it doesn't belong in the gift shop for sale. The city should not be selling or involved or engaged in selling the flag on city-owned property."

It was the second time Bassette brought the issue to city council, but he believes with the debate going on across the nation today, this time councilmembers listened. The Mayor hesitated the decision.

"I would be the last person in the world to defend the Confederate Flag," said Hampton Mayor George Wallace. "But at the same time, I think we should reflect history accurately when we portray history in the Hampton Museum."

But Councilmember Will Moffett disagreed.

"Just as the swastika is offensive, is a symbol of Nazi-ism under Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, that same emotional connotation is the same among African Americans," he said. "Just like myself who grew up in Mississippi and who had relatives lynched so I think we have made the appropriate decision."

The decision was made before that city council meeting began on July 8th. NewsChannel 3 asked why the council didn't vote or why wasn't there any public comment on the issue. A city spokesperson says complaints, like Mr. Bassette's fall under day to day operations, which would be a decision made by the city manager.

"I understand why it would be offensive so when I learned he had items we were selling, I asked Mr. Wilson to take care of that immediately," City Manager Mary Bunting told the city council.

Bunting also wanted to clear up confusion saying the city owns the building and the museum, but a non-profit association funds and runs the gift shop. No one from Hampton History Museum Association got back to us about their decision to pull the merchandise, but it was gone 24 hours after Bassette made his complaint.