DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A vendor at a major motorcycle rally in Florida briefly sold hats emblazoned with Nazi symbols, saying she considered them a tribute to World War II veterans who helped defeat the Germans.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that the vendor was selling the hats embroidered with swastikas and a skull-and-bones logo used by the Nazi SS at a stand during Biketoberfest, an ongoing festival that draws thousands of bikers to the Daytona Beach area this month.
The vendor said she had sold the hats at other biker rallies around the country without complaint. The woman also sells rings, wallet chains and hats without Nazi logos.
“It doesn’t mean what people think,” said the vendor, who would only give her name as Jenny. “A lot of people don’t know the history, so they label me a racist, which is not true at all.”
Marvin Miller, president of the Jewish Federation of Volusia & Flagler Counties, expressed weary resignation about the items’ sale.
“It’s just a shame in this day and age,” Miller told the News-Journal. “It never stops. We just have to deal with it and just remember that we’re still America. Unfortunately, people abuse some of the wonderful rights we have and take it to extremes to spread propaganda.”
Jonathan Davis, whose photo of the merchandise posted Thursday on Facebook first noted its sale, said he thought that while Americans could disagree on their politics, there was agreement that Nazi imagery “had no place in society.”
“It’s absolutely disgusting to see a vendor selling Nazi and SS gear, but it’s even worse that the only reason they would do so is because people are actually buying it,” Davis said.
The owner of the property where Jenny was selling her goods ordered her to remove the Nazi merchandise and she complied.