Ericka Boussarhane said she is unsettled after stumbling upon a figurine of a Ku Klux Klan member in a Florida antique store.
She called it a first.
“I’ve been to many antique stores,” the Pensacola resident told McClatchy Newspapers. “There are so many ones I go to, and in all of them, I have never seen anything so blatantly racist as a KKK statue.”
The story was first published by the Pensacola News Journal, which reported that Boussarhane, who is black, entered Uncle Billy’s Antique Mall on Monday — and soon found the controversial item for sale.
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The store did not answer McClatchy’s request for comment on its Facebook page. A worker who answered the store’s phone told McClatchy that there is “no controversy” surrounding the figurine and declined further comment, while confirming the item is there.
In her interview with McClatchy, Boussarhane said a friend had recommended that she check out Uncle Billy’s Antique Mall because it had interesting glass work. But then the woman found the KKK figurine, she recalled, and asked a store manager for an explanation.
The worker responded that the KKK item was being sold as an historical artifact, Boussarhane told McClatchy.
“She explained to me that they have had several items of history in her store,” Boussarhane said. “She also told me there was a full Ku Klux Klansman outfit that they had before that they sold.”
Boussarhane shared an image of the figurine on Facebook, where at least one other person wrote they had seen the KKK item as well in the store.
Melissa Hollis, the store’s manager, told the Pensacola News Journal that she is the woman whom Boussarhane asked about the figurine. Hollis said the antique store refuses to sell anything KKK to blatant racists, and gave an example of a man who wanted to buy a KKK robe.
“He wanted to pass out KKK literature and pamphlets, he told us that,” Hollis told The Pensacola News Journal. “We backed out. It didn’t matter how much money he was willing to give us. His money didn’t mean that much to us.”
But Boussarhane said she doesn’t understand how a store can determine if a person interested in buying a KKK item is either racist or a historical buff.
“I’m thinking, do you think he just had a buddy of his to come in and buy it instead?” she told McClatchy. “It’s as if she can vet them like a forensic psychologist to see their motive.”
And as for the argument that the antique store can sell a KKK item because it represents history?
“My belief system is yes, it does belong in some type of historical location like a museum,” Boussarhane told McClatchy. “But in a business — in which you are representing people of all sexual orientations, religious orientations, ethnic orientations — you shouldn’t have that.
“It pretty much represents hate,” she added. “It’s not just a black and white thing. The KKK doesn’t like anyone but white people — and it negates gays, Hispanics. I think it should be used to educate, and not hate.”
It’s not the first time Uncle Billy’s Antique Mall has made headlines. As reported by the Pensacola News Journal, store owner Billy Boyette covered the side of the antique store in October with a mural of serial killer Ted Bundy. He told the newspaper the decision to put up the mural “boils down to advertising.”
Boussarhane explained what the antique store could do to make amends after news broke of the KKK figurine.
“What I really want to see come from this, is that it’s not just a black and white issue, or people online debating the right or wrong or politics,” the woman told McClatchy. “I just want us to look at each other and find common ground, and maybe admit we have all made mistakes. But there is growth that can come from this and loving one another is what we should be doing.”
Still, Boussarhane added that the timing of her discovery didn’t go unnoticed.
“Oh yeah,” she told McClatchy, “and it’s Black History Month.”