Dozens call for closure of Wildman’s Confederate memorabilia store in Kennesaw

About 100 protesters converged in downtown Kennesaw Friday to call for the closure of a controversial store displaying Confederate and Jim Crow-era memorabilia, Wildman’s Civil War Surplus.

The group, made up of high school and college students and young adults, said the presence of the store owned by Dent “Wildman” Myers on Main Street glorifies white supremacy and does not have a place in 21st century America.

PHOTOS | The scene at Wildman's

Organized by two Kennesaw State University students, the protest included chants denouncing police brutality and eight minutes of silence matching the length of time former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 in police custody. Chauvin and three other Minneapolis officers have been charged in his death.

Kennesaw police spokesman Scott Luther said the protest, which is expected to end around 7 p.m., has been peaceful.

Credit: John Amis

Credit: John Amis

Wildman’s has been open since 1971 and describes itself as a museum. Along with selling Confederate flags, the cramped storefront has an array of racist items on display, including an early Ku Klux Klan outfit with a noose around its neck, photos of people holding a Nazi flag and dolls of children with exaggerated African American features popular during the Jim Crow era. The dolls are stored on shelves labeled with a racial slur.

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Myers, who was seen outside his store Friday, told a reporter he doesn’t believe what he has on display is racist or offensive. Along with the American memorabilia, Myers also said he has items from Nazi Germany.

“It’s all history, regardless what you think about it,” said Myers, who is about 90 and occasionally emerged from his store to watch the protesters and speak with reporters.

Credit: John Amis

Credit: John Amis

The protesters were having none of it. Frederick Saunders of nearby Acworth said Wildman’s has been a “foundation of hate for decades.” Saunders also said the public should boycott other Main Street businesses to show their disapproval of Wildman’s presence in downtown.

“You have a business on Main Street that promotes straight hatred, and nobody … wants to address the elephant in the room,” he said. “That’s my issue.”

Adrianna Ballard, a KSU student, said Wildman’s is offensive because it’s a “store that’s based on our oppression” and displays racist items “like it is something to be enjoyed.”

READPetition calls for removal of Confederate flag in Kennesaw

The protesters also held signs at the corner of North Main Street and Stephenson Avenue denouncing police brutality against black Americans.

Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger addressed the protesters. The chief, who had about 10 officers stationed nearby, said Floyd’s death was “absolutely horrendous” and his department does not use tactics like the one that killed the 59-year-old in Minnesota.

“That is not who we are and that is not how we train,” he said.

Credit: John Amis

Credit: John Amis

Westenberger said he and his department supported the activists’ right to protest.

“There needs to be more dialogue,” he told gathered protesters. “There needs to be more action from our community to work together to make a difference in what’s happening in our world. I want you to know that you have our ears.”

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