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Jul 14, 2015 12:41 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Painting Of Confederate Battle Flag Evokes Mixed Responses

Some of the trinkets for sale at the Whoa! Nellie Retro store in Montauk. ALISHA STEINDECKER
Jul 14, 2015 4:07 PM

In recent weeks, the Confederate battle flag has become a national symbol under attack, pulled from flagpoles and the shelves of national retailers.

But one store in Montauk had a painting of the controversial flag propped up outside, for sale—and it was stolen just a few days before the Fourth of July holiday.

Stolen from the Whoa! Nellie Retro store on Main Street, the Confederate battle flag was painted on a snow fence, which was 4 feet by 27 inches. But it might not have been the most provocative image available to buy or steal.

Inside, the store is cluttered with antique pieces, including a cold-to-the-touch metal Nazi swastika from Russia. Many items represent sensitive times in American history, such as a magazine illustrating the death of President John F. Kennedy. They are stuck between magnets, children’s toys, newspapers, posters, musical instruments, shoes and more.

Another Confederate battle flag, also painted on a snow fence, now is hidden behind snow fence paintings of American flags—a conscious decision by the owner after the first one was stolen.

“How are people going to learn to not approve of something unless they get the full story?” asked the store owner, Linda Cameron. That is why, she said, she sells the Confederate flag paintings, as well as the other controversial items.

Ms. Cameron listed a number of reasons for selling the Confederate battle flag, which was valued at $150, among the other Americana items at her store. She said she wants family members to discuss the significance of the items in America’s history.

“We kind of get distracted from what the depth of history is and from what we can learn from the lessons of it. And, we get carried away in the moment of the hype,” she explained. “I don’t approve of a lot of things that go on in the world, but I am selling this so people get the full story.”

When she was in Beijing, she said, she bought a Mao Tse-tung souvenir. “I just stood where he stood. That is just so amazing. But it doesn’t mean I support his policies,” she said of the former Chinese Communist leader.

The Confederate flag has been an especially contentious topic of late because of the June 17 massacre at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. On Friday, it was taken down from outside South Carolina’s Statehouse, largely because the church massacre has been labeled a hate crime—the accused killer had posed numerous times with the rebel flag.

Some say the flag simply pays tribute to the South’s history, or is simply an image of rebellion But to many, the Confederate battle flag has been a symbol of hatred toward African-Americans for decades, not just in the weeks following the massacre which left nine church-goers dead.

When asked his opinion, Richard “Juni” Wingfield, an African-American man who fought in the Vietnam War, said that people need to understand the symbolism associated with the flag. “My point is just clear,” said Mr. Wingfield, who is the community liaison for the Southampton Public Schools, co-advisor for the Peer Assisted Leadership and Natural Helpers programs, and an athletic coach. “There could be those who do this for culture, but the point remains that, if it’s a symbol that still is painful, then regardless of why I am doing it I would think that symbol shouldn’t be displayed.”

Ms. Cameron and her husband, John Cameron, first opened Whoa! Nellie Retro in Jamesport, but replaced it with the store in Montauk eight years ago. They opened the first store after the September 11 terrorist attacks, when, Ms. Cameron said, she no longer wanted to be a corporate flight attendant.

“We felt that it was a pivotal time in the rest of America’s history—I felt compelled to create something that would make people feel joyous and happy again,” she said, adding that some of the items in the store, she hopes, will remind people of their childhoods.

“Isn’t my liberty to seek out historic events cherished in my free homeland?” she asked, and then answered herself: “It is.”

Freedom of speech, including offensive speech, is a protected right under the First Amendment. Ms. Cameron said she respects American liberties and that symbols can mean different things to different individuals. She added that she believes the massacre in South Carolina happened “because one person was misguided.”

Mr. Wingfield noted that the Confederate battle flag brings back painful memories of racism and slavery in the South, just as the Nazi swastika is a reminder of the Holocaust and ongoing anti-Semitism. “The memory is that this was something so atrocious that it shouldn’t happen again—this is something that I know in my heart,” he said.

Gene Gilligan, the artist who painted the stolen Confederate battle flag, said he believes that the fact that it was stolen is “ironic.”

“It’s just, you know, the flag is getting a bad rap right now,” he said. Although he acknowledged the reasons for this, Mr. Gilligan said that, in his opinion, the flag was most likely simply stolen by some kids, not because of the murders in Charleston.

“If you look back at history, it’s a very historic flag,” he said, adding that he enjoys painting all flags, such as the American flag, the “Don’t Tread On Me” historic flag from the American Revolution, and even Yankees and Mets flags.

Throughout the approximately 15 years that Whoa! Nellie Retro has been open, only one woman has expressed offense at the Confederate flags—and that was over this past Fourth of July weekend, Ms. Cameron said. The woman did not like the idea that she was selling the flag on Independence Day, and Ms. Cameron blamed “topical news” for the woman’s anger. “It was just one of all of the flags, and, again, I just truly believe the flavor of the day is what people run away with,” she said.

As far as removing the flag from South Carolina’s statehouse, Ms. Cameron believes it was unfortunate, but necessary. “It’s sad that it has to be that way, but we have to protect lives,” she said. “I perfectly appreciate how it can affect some people.”

Ms. Cameron added that she wished the news media would be more of a healing force, rather than an upsetting one.

“We want people to take a pause and let history, the good and the bad, resonate with hearts and souls—that’s what it’s all about,” she said. Her husband wore the Confederate battle flag on his cap, she noted, in observance of the suffering that took place in the Civil War, and racism.

“There is no dollar reason that they should be selling a symbol of hatred—and that’s what it’s all about,” said Lucius Ware, president of the Eastern Long Island chapter of the NAACP.

“Only now will we realize every day how painful it must have been for people to pass that flag every day,” Mr. Wingfield explained, adding that the flag “fanned the flames of racism."

“Life is funny like that,” he continued, “in terms of what it takes for people to see certain things.”

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On "East Quoge Day" last Sat, there was a confederate flag flying right on Main Street in East Quogue. How many of the thousands of people driving there on Montauk Hwy knew it was "East Quogue Day"? This happened one day after South Carolina.... While I understand the "historical" reference (though this is the North, not the South last time I checked) I wonder what the motivation was to display it so predominately? With the huge local KKK presence in Hampton Bays & East Quogue I found the display ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 16, 15 8:03 AM
... let's here more about the huge "KKK presence in Hampton Bays and East Quogue". You seem to be dialed into it.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Jul 16, 15 10:03 AM
William R, it has been reported in this paper and even recently in another local publication that Hampton Bays has a 300 member strong KKK group. Having lived locally since the 60's I have seen & heard some not so nice things in the area. It's sad it still exists in 2015. It's sad it ever existed locally. So if reading local news, quotes from KKK members and living here for decades is "dialed in" - then sure, maybe I am. It's really about being aware of what goes on locally, live here long enough ...more
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 16, 15 1:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
G...these papers quoted that nut Munker who says it's 300 strong. I wouldn't count on. It. I've lived here long enough to know that it is not representative of the Hampton Bays. There are bigots everywhere.
By Infoseeker (280), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 15 6:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree. I laugh when anyone says "I heard" or "They say". How about some proof - names, pictures, etc.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Jul 17, 15 8:17 AM
The South did not secede primarily because of slavery; it was because they viewed an oppressive federal government and associated tariffs which they thought was an infringement on their states rights. In Lincoln's First Inaugural Address he promised he had no intention to change slavery in the South. He argued it would be unconstitutional for him to do so. But he promised he would invade any state that failed to collect tariffs in order to enforce them.

Virginia, whose Army of Northern ...more
Jul 17, 15 9:15 PM appended by Po Boy
Sure, the Confederate Flag was hijacked and misrepresented by ignorant fools over the course of history, however, allowing it to continue to be hijacked by more ignorant fools and erased from history would be a travesty.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 17, 15 9:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Phil, you can win an argument with an intelligent person.

However, it's nigh impossible to win one with the ignorant or the stupid, or those who've never heard of the Missouri compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, or Lincoln's Peoria speech.

"Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith. Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the ...more
Jul 18, 15 7:20 AM appended by Mr. Z
"As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.' " ~ Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Joshua Speed (1855)
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 18, 15 7:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
"We Are Liberals"

We're not against the rich.
WE ARE against using wealth to gain an unfair advantage.

We're not against corporations.
WE ARE against corporations governing us.

We're not against capitalism.
WE ARE against corruption and crony capitalism.

We're not against banks.
WE ARE against fraudulent banking practices.

We're not against Wall Street.
WE ARE against legalized fraud in the markets.

We're not against energy.
WE ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 20, 15 10:22 AM
2 members liked this comment
Z you are delusional
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jul 21, 15 10:01 AM
2 members liked this comment
mr z
have you read Revolution by Russel Brand?
By llimretaw (118), watermill on Jul 24, 15 10:27 PM
"President Lincoln insisted the conflict was not about slavery or civil rights, but an effort to preserve the Union." Nps dot gov

Protest of Bronze Statue Draws NAACP to Leesburg - nbc washington
A rally in Leesburg to protest a symbol of the Confederacy is planned for Saturday morning.

At 10:30 a.m., the NAACP will ask for the removal of a bronze statue on the courthouse grounds in downtown Leesburg. The statue is a Confederate soldier with a bronze rifle.

It's protected ...more
Jul 18, 15 10:36 AM appended by Po Boy
Where does it end?
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 18, 15 10:36 AM
"If I could save the union without freeing a single slave I would do it"

Abraham Lincoln
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jul 21, 15 10:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
The great southern charade. The war was about states rights. Yes, enough states rights to maintain the institution of slavery. The highest concentration of millionaires in the 1850's in this country was Natchez, Mississippi. All on the backs of slaves. The great bible toting, religious south. Just where in the bible does it say that owning slaves was good for people of faith. As Confederate General Longstreet said, We're fighting for the worst cause possible. What party do you think the KKK belong ...more
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 20, 15 9:57 AM
The KKK were democrats after the war, obviously not in Lincoln's anti-slave republican party. But their is no doubt the KKK are Republicans today.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 20, 15 10:00 AM
I disagree with the republican assessment Mets fan. The GOP isn't far enough to the right for the KKK. The Klan is on a whole different scale. It's a much safer bet IMO to say the New Black Panthers are the Democrats today. Did you see the two groups battling over the weekend in South Carolina? The KKK in Nazi garb, the New Black Panther Party proudly displaying the Anarchist symbol. Looked like they even had some Occupy types with them. My favorite sign... "Screw the Klan, the Confederacy ...more
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 20, 15 10:37 AM
As far back as 1992, David Duke, ran for president as a republican.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 21, 15 12:07 AM
As far back? ... you don't say. You were a Republican once too, right? Maybe as far back as 1992 even? I believe the allegation however was "Republicans today." What your allegation is attempting to link is the "far" element of politics with the "establishment" element, and you'll find that the Republican party even back in 1992 distanced themselves from Duke.

Btw, David Duke was a Democrat before 1989; running in Democratic presidential primaries. He won a seat to Congress, not ...more
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 21, 15 8:41 AM
There you go Mets fan... have fun "looking it up". I'm also certain (not) you'll find that "the KKK are Republicans today." Be sure to report back on the miraculous shift of all the wrongs of Democrats - the KKK, slavery, Jim Crow laws - to Republicans and the historic maneuver that transferred all the past wrongs onto Republicans and all the past virtues of Republicans onto Democrats.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 21, 15 10:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Just what party do you think the KKK of today belongs to? Democratic??? After the civil war, all plantation owners and anti-black rights southerners were democrats. Voted solidly as a bloc for decades. They were not in the anti-slave lincoln republican party. Yesterday's democrat is today's small minded republican. LBJ's civil rights act in 1964 was one part of the conversion of southern democrats to republicans.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 21, 15 7:00 PM
Judging from the tee shirts worn in South Carolina last week I would say the National Socialist Movement.

That vote you reference had a higher percentage of Republican votes than Democrat.

"Small minded"... people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 22, 15 12:03 PM
Still doesn't change the fact ,that conservatives from the south are republican, not democratic. Well we know already the small-minded views of the republican party.
The views of the kkk and the republican party share a common link. They will tell you black free stuffers are killing the country.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 22, 15 12:45 PM
Well Mets fan, you are partially correct. Free stuffers are killing the country. But it is the KKK and Democrats that attach race to it. That's a telling common link.
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jul 22, 15 6:17 PM
Keep dancing around it, your not fooling anybody, including yourself.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 22, 15 6:49 PM
The republicans attach race to it every chance they get. I just have to listen to my republican friends I grew up with and my in-laws for their biased opinions. make no mistake about it, it's about race.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 22, 15 6:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
All lives matter.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Jul 22, 15 7:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
"The republicans attach race to it every chance they get."

Well there you go. It's Democrats who attach race every chance they get. Conveniently ignored however when death is at the hands of other blacks - no where mentioned.

All lives matter.

By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Jul 23, 15 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
What leads you to believe some nimrod with an opinion and forum has any credence?
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Jul 25, 15 11:53 PM
So Mr Z, it seems as if you just admitted to being a Marxist, classic.
Phil, queen of the C&P from the Huffington Puffington Post, welcome back Komrade.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jul 21, 15 6:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
No, I'm just educated. You should try it sometime.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 21, 15 7:36 AM
I'm really more of a centrist with a heart, who's hard when he has to be. Trust me when I tell you that that the "right" side of me is something you don't want to see.

But, if it satisfies and coddles your view of this disaster of a world to think that "every man for himself" will create a society with the potential to exist on a stage larger than this ball of mud, feel free to disillusion yourself. Life is short, and the Universe is nearly incomprehensibly large...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 24, 15 6:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
to marlinspike:


'The leftist view that the individual comes second results in the ultimate collapse of socialism every time.'

Except for all those pesky, long-lived, rock-stable, socialist Scandinavian countries, all of which, mirabile dictu, are also always ranked in the top ten of "World's Happiest Countries" (in the "World Happiness Report" of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.)

The ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jul 24, 15 11:37 AM
2 members liked this comment
Communism is not socialism. There is a difference, and you just named communist or former communist states.

They say ignorance is bliss, and boy do you have bliss in abundance...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 24, 15 9:20 PM

Socialism is to those according to deed.
Communism is to those according to need.

Apples, and oranges...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 25, 15 3:43 PM
Is the republican party distancing itself from the Donald,ha-ha?
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 21, 15 9:18 AM
i like donald
By Erin 27 E (1281), hampton bays on Jul 21, 15 8:25 PM
2 members liked this comment
I can't wait for the debates. Somebody get the popcorn!
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 21, 15 8:31 PM
A classless jerk, you can identify with that.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 22, 15 12:38 PM
He Is shaking up the process, showing the career politicians to be feckless, PC clones. While he will not be elected Prez, it's refreshing to see a candidate speak without a teleprompter, answer questions honestly and directly and not kow tow to the media. Refusing to backpedal on controversial comments shows backbone, something the liberals and for that matter establishment Republicans are sorely lacking.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jul 23, 15 6:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
In all seriousness Phil, there is an opportunity here for a conversation about why "The Donald" is doing so well in the polls. IMHO people are so angry with the political system in general that saying they support Trump is the best or only way to show that anger. With the exception of Carson, I think Trump is the only non career politician running on the right and has shown no restraint at lobbing bombs at the system. I think Trump will continue to do well in the polls as people vent but I'm not ...more
By bird (829), Southampton on Jul 23, 15 8:17 AM
Trump's irreverence is the key to his popularity. If there is one guarantee in this world, is that people can and will be suckered by sensationalism.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 24, 15 6:14 AM
I think your missing the bigger picture. Trump speaks to the people who have been hurt the most in the last 20 years, blue collar middle and lower middle class workers and families. And he speaks to very real issues for those people:
* The illegals and all the economic damage that comes with them. Most of that damage is done to the blue collar middle class.
* The crime problem the illegals bring with them. Yes his comments remind me of the Horton ads but hey, the guy he's talking about had ...more
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Jul 24, 15 8:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
If Trump really does, then Bernie Sanders has him as whipped as the millennium is long.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 25, 15 3:42 PM
Except that Bernie Sanders solution for everything is basically to take from people who work hard and give it to those who don't. He is a career politician who doesn't take responsibility for his failed political actions and IMHO the middle class is sick and tired of career politicians with nothing to offer.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Jul 28, 15 3:31 PM
Deja vu all over again.
By Captn America 2 (1), Southampton on Jul 24, 15 11:33 PM
1 member liked this comment