Party City, one of the nation’s largest party supply retailers, has removed from its shelves a Halloween costume of a Confederate soldier after a white Virginia woman who adopted two black children said it was racist.
Caroline Brasler of Arlington, Virginia, was shopping at the Party City store in Bailey’s Crossroads last week when she noticed two costumes depicting rebel soldiers wearing a hat with the Confederate battle flag.
One of the costumes was of General Robert E. Lee. The other costume depicted a Confederate officer.
Brasler, who took photos of the costumes and posted them on her Facebook account, was looking to buy Halloween costumes for her two young girls – Meredith, 12, and Olivia, 10.
A Party City store in suburban Arlington, Virginia, removed from its shelves two Halloween costumes depicting Confederate General Robert E. Lee (left) and a Confederate officer (right)
The costumes were removed after Caroline Brasler of Arlington, Virginia, noticed them while shopping in the store last week
Brasler, who took photos of the costumes and posted them on her Facebook account, was looking to buy Halloween costumes for her two young girls – Meredith, 12, and Olivia, 10. Both of the girls were adopted.
‘The Confederate flag to me is a symbol of racism,’ she told WUSA-TV.
‘To have that out there for a child to wear on Halloween sends so many horrible messages.’
Brasler added: ‘I’m the adoptive parent of two beautiful African American girls.
‘We discuss race, we respect race.
‘And to see something like that just flies in the face of everything I try to teach them to be proud young women.’
‘I’m the adoptive parent of two beautiful African American girls,’ Brasler said. ‘We discuss race, we respect race. And to see something like that just flies in the face of everything I try to teach them to be proud young women.’
Brasler said that after she saw the Confederate costumes at the store, she refused to spend her money at that location. Instead, she’ll buy vampire and zombie unicorn costumes for the girls somewhere else
A store manager at the Party City location confirmed to DailyMail.com that the costumes were removed
Brasler said Olivia asked her why she was taking a photograph of the costumes.
‘I said, “That’s a Confederate flag, that’s a symbol of hate,” and she said, “Oh, ma, really?”
THE FLAG OF THE CONFEDERACY
The Civil War-era Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is today known as the symbol of the Confederacy
What is today considered the Confederate flag was never the official national flag of the 13 states which made up the Confederate States of America from 1861 until 1865.
The banner that is often hoisted at rallies today is a version of the Battle Flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Also known as the ‘Dixie flag,’ ‘rebel flag’, or ‘battle flag,’ the design has come to be associated with the racial history of the South.
The Confederate States of America were formed in 1861 when 11 states seceded from the union in order to protect the institution of slavery.
The North eventually defeated the South in the Civil War, resulting in the abolition of slavery.
But racial injustices continued, particularly in the South, where blacks were subject to systematic discrimination and violence at the hands of whites.
While the flag is often flown by non-extremists who cite Southern pride and heritage, the symbol has also been adopted by extremist groups like neo-Nazis and other white supremacist organizations, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The use of the Confederate battle flag by extremist groups has prompted widespread calls for the banner to be banned and for statues and monuments honoring Civil War-era figures from the South to be taken down.
‘Then she took off for the candy aisle.’
Brasler said that after she saw the Confederate costumes at the store, she refused to spend her money at that location.
Instead, she’ll buy vampire and zombie unicorn costumes for the girls somewhere else.
‘No more princesses for them!’ she said.
A store manager at the Bailey’s Crossroads location told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that the costumes in question have been removed.
In a statement, Party City said the costumes were not sanctioned by the company’s corporate offices and that they were sold at the discretion of the franchise owner.
‘At Party City, we do not tolerate racism or hatred of any kind, and we stand together in solidarity with our diverse colleagues, customers, and communities,’ the company in a statement.
‘As the leader in Halloween with more than 60 million customers per year, Party City supplies a broad assortment of costumes, none of which are meant to be offensive in any way.
‘The costume in question was sold at a franchise location and is not produced or sold in any Party City corporate-owned stores.
‘We have reached out to our franchisees and other partners to remove it from all retail locations ASAP.
‘We know that as a company, we can and must do better, and we’re taking immediate action.
‘We value customer feedback and will continue to evaluate how to make each shopping experience fun and welcoming for all as we support efforts in inclusion internally, in our communities, and beyond.’
Party City, which counts more than 800 retail stores across North America, began franchising in 1986.
Anyone looking to open a Party City store can do so by paying a franchise fee that ranges between $25,000 and $35,000 for the company. In exchange, the company offers training and advertising services.
The display of the Confederate flag as well as Confederate monuments has become a hot-button issue in recent months amid the racial unrest that was sparked by police-involved killings of African Americans.
Supporters of the symbol say it is an important part of Southern heritage and history, while opponents who demand its removal say it harkens back to the days of slavery and oppression of blacks.
At least 63 Confederate statues, monuments or markers have been removed from public land across the country since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25.
Most were removed by government officials, though protesters have toppled some.
How Robert E. Lee went from hero to racist icon…
Gen. Robert E. Lee
A son of American Revolutionary War hero Henry ‘Light-Horse Harry’ Lee, Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point and distinguished himself in various battles during the U.S.-Mexico War. As tensions heated around southern secession, Lee’s former mentor, Gen. Winfield Scott, offered him a post to lead the Union’s forces against the South. Lee declined, citing his reservations about fighting against his home state of Virginia.
Lee accepted a leadership role in the Confederate forces although he had little experience leading troops. He struggled but eventually became a general in the Confederate Army, winning battles largely because of incompetent Union Gen. George McClellan.
He would win other important battles against other Union’s generals, but he was often stalled. He was famously defeated at Gettysburg by Union Maj. Gen. George Meade. Historians say Lee’s massed infantry assault across a wide plain was a gross miscalculation in the era of artillery and rifle fire.
A few weeks after becoming the general in chief of the armies of the Confederate states, Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9, 1865.
THE SLAVE OWNER
A career army officer, Lee didn’t have much wealth, but he inherited a few slaves from his mother. Still, Lee married into one of the wealthiest slave-holding families in Virginia – the Custis family of Arlington and descendants of Martha Washington. When Lee’s father-in-law died, he took leave from the U.S. Army to run the struggling estate and met resistance from slaves expecting to be freed.
Documents show Lee was a cruel figure with his slaves and encouraged his overseers to severely beat slaves captured after trying to escape. One slave said Lee was one of the meanest men she had ever met.
In a 1856 letter, Lee wrote that slavery is ‘a moral & political evil.’ But Lee also wrote in the same letter that God would be the one responsible for emancipation and blacks were better off in the U.S. than Africa.
THE LOST CAUSE ICON
After the Civil War, Lee resisted efforts to build Confederate monuments in his honor and instead wanted the nation to move on from the Civil War.
After his death, Southerners adopted ‘The Lost Cause’ revisionist narrative about the Civil War and placed Lee as its central figure. The Last Cause argued the South knew it was fighting a losing war and decided to fight it anyway on principle. It also tried to argue that the war was not about slavery but high constitutional ideals.
As The Lost Cause narrative grew in popularity, proponents pushed to memorialize Lee, ignoring his deficiencies as a general and his role as a slave owner. Lee monuments went up in the 1920s just as the Ku Klux Klan was experiencing a resurgence and new Jim Crow segregation laws were adopted.
A NEW MEMORY
A generation after the civil rights movement, black and Latino residents began pressuring elected officials to dismantle Lee and other Confederate memorials in places like New Orleans, Houston and South Carolina. The removals partly were based on violent acts committed white supremacists using Confederate imagery and historians questioning the legitimacy of The Lost Cause.
A Gen. Robert E. Lee statue was removed from Lee Circle in New Orleans as the last of four monuments to Confederate-era figures to be removed under a 2015 City Council vote.
The Houston Independent School District also voted in 2016 to rename Robert E. Lee High School, a school with a large Latino population, as Margaret Long Wisdom High School.