- Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Confederate flags will continue to be sold out of a building in a historic gathering place for Little Rock’s black community despite pressure from the state NAACP, a store owner told protesters following the shooting of nine black churchgoers.

On Friday outside her store, Arkansas Flag and Banner owner Kerry McCoy told about 20 people organized by the civil rights organization that she doesn’t support racial prejudice. Her business is in Taborian Hall, which according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture is the last remaining original building on Little Rock’s 9th Street Line, a hub for black businesses and culture throughout the 1920s and ‘30s. The area hosted famous black musicians.

“Imagine the disgust Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington would feel if they were alive today with the use and purpose of this building by Arkansas Flag and Banner,” Arkansas NAACP President Dale Charles told those gathered, according to KATV-TV.

The Confederate flag has been scrutinized following the June 17 killings of a state senator and eight other black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in what authorities have described as a hate crime. Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year-old white man charged with nine counts of murder in the slayings, has been photographed with the flag, which represented the pro-slavery southern states that in 1861-65 tried to secede during the Civil War.

McCoy told protesters she wasn’t supporting racism and said she has supported the black community by restoring the historically significant building. She said sales of the flags have increased following decisions by Wal-Mart, Amazon and other retailers to remove Confederate merchandise.

She said her store has received Confederate flag orders from as far away as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and she recently ordered more of the flags to keep up with demand.

“Like all retailers, I know not what is in the hearts of any of my customers when they buy from me,” McCoy said, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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