House votes to ban sale of Confederate flag in Park Service stores

Confederate Flag, MoveOn, Charleston
Getty Images

The House voted Tuesday to affirm that stores on federal lands operated by the National Park Service cannot sell Confederate flags, in light of a new policy announced in the aftermath of the shooting in Charleston, S.C.

Adoption of the amendment to the 2016 Interior Department appropriations bill came easily on a voice vote after just six minutes of debate, where no one spoke in opposition. The amendment reflects a policy announced by the National Park Service in June to ban the sale of Confederate flag merchandise from its gift shops and bookstores.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), the author of the amendment, said it was important that Congress prevent the sale of the Confederate image on federal property.

ADVERTISEMENT
“This House now has an opportunity to add its voice, by ending the promotion of the cruel, racist legacy of the Confederacy,” Huffman said. “While many concessionaires have agreed to do this, I am dismayed by reports that some will continue to sell items with Confederate flag imagery.”

The Confederate flag has been the subject of public scrutiny in the aftermath of the June 17 shooting at a historically black church that killed nine people. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, reportedly told law enforcement officials he wanted to start a race war. Photographs of Roof posing with the Confederate flag in an apparent online manifesto have also since surfaced.

Under the National Park Service policy, Confederate symbols in educational items like books or historical documentaries would still be allowed for sale. But standalone items depicting the Confederate flag would be prohibited.

Major retailers including Wal-Mart, eBay and Amazon have also stopped selling items with the Confederate flag.

The House opted to punt last month on whether to remove the display of the Confederate image around the Capitol complex. Rep. Bennie Thompson’s (D-Miss.) resolution, which would apply to the Mississippi flag, was instead referred to the House Administration Committee for review.

The South Carolina Senate voted Monday to remove the display of the Confederate flag from its state Capitol grounds. It is currently being debated in the South Carolina House.

Passage of the underlying Interior Department spending bill is expected Wednesday.