- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The head of the Alabama Historical Commission said Wednesday that her department removed “a small number” of Confederate battle flag items from the Alabama Capitol’s gift shop.

Lisa Jones, the commission’s acting executive director, said the merchandise was removed from the Goat Hill Museum Store after Confederate battle flags flying on Capitol grounds were taken down last month.

Jones said in a statement that the removed items had Confederate flags on them or on their packaging. She said a “large number” of books, souvenirs and other Civil War-related products remain available. She did not provide a list of which items were removed.

“The decision was made by the management of the Alabama Historical Commission,” she said, but did not specify why.

The site director for Confederate Memorial Park, which is managed by the Alabama Historical Commission, said the park’s store in Marbury got a few boxes of merchandise such as Confederate flag shirts and toy Confederate soldiers. One popular item is a gray T-shirt with a Confederate flag, designed to look like it has bullet holes and rips.

“Just the usual souvenir trinkets,” Bill Rambo said. “You know. They’re Confederate things because this is Confederate Park, and we’re going to sell them. We’ve been running low since this whole mess started. We’ve been selling out.”

He said the park has had more visitors and sales since Gov. Robert Bentley ordered the flags removed from an 88-foot Confederate monument beside the Capitol last month.

Debate about the Confederate flag surged after the June 17 fatal shooting of nine black worshippers at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in what police say was a racially motivated attack.

Rambo said the controversy has been good for business.

“Sales are booming,” he said. “It’s been great. We’re selling out of everything, and our suppliers are selling out. We’re having a heck of a time waiting on more goods.”

Last week State Auditor Jim Zeigler blamed Bentley for the removing the items from the gift shop on the first floor of the Capitol, but Bentley’s spokeswoman said Zeigler was wrong.

Zeigler also accused Bentley of restocking the items at the Capitol shop after he complained of their disappearance.

Jones said that is not true.

“Contrary to some media reports, none of the limited number of items were returned to the store shelves,” she said. “Any observed changes to inventory since June 25 are the result of the routine sale and restocking of merchandise.”

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