‘Just a little laugh, all it was and then death threats started pouring in from all over Texas and just everywhere…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) A North Carolina chocolate shop owner put a sign in front of his store that read, “Burn a Rebel flag, get a free chocolate,” in response to people waving Confederate flags outside his store on Saturdays.
Matthew Shepherd, who owns the chocolate shop in Hillsborough, said he decided to put out the sign because the people waving Confederate flags had become nasty, WNCN reported.
“They were calling me names, they’re calling everybody names,” Shepherd said. “They’re instigating, they’re poking, they’re blocking the sidewalk.”
Frustrated with their demonstrations, Shepherd called the police. The police informed Shepherd that the group’s Confederate flag-waving was protected free speech, so authorities could not remove them.
He decided to retaliate in a different way.
“So I put on my sign, ‘burn a Rebel flag, get a free chocolate.’ None of the locals want that flag there, none of them. So instead of seeing angry people, I was seeing people, ‘Oh look at this!’ It was lightening the mood,” Shepherd said.
The Sons of the Confederacy saw a Facebook posting about the sign and became agitated.
“When they left, I took the sign away and wrote gelatos on it again, you know, it was just for the locals,” Shepherd said. “Just a little laugh, all it was and then death threats started pouring in from all over Texas and just everywhere.”
The Sons of the Confederacy did not understand the sign to be a joke, and at least one of them who posted on Facebook thought of the sign as an unnecessary and unprovoked escalation.
“When I’m minding my own business and I get attacked by this guy and he puts out advertisements on his business chalkboard to promote violence on burning my property, then it’s not going to end well,” Steve Marley wrote on Facebook, according to WCNC.
Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens rebuked the Confederate flag and its “hateful message,” though he acknowledged the right of citizens to display it.
He said the police would investigate the death threats against Shepherd.