From Tiki Torches to Hockey, Charlottesville Compels Brands to Denounce Their White Supremacist Patrons

Katie Mettler, Washington Post, August 14, 2017

Unite the Right rally

Unite the Right rally. (Credit Image: © Zach D Roberts/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press)

Last weekend in Charlottesville, hundreds of people espousing white nationalist, neo-Nazi and Klux Klux Klan ideology marched in the dark through the University of Virginia campus spewing racist taunts while illuminating the night with tiki torches in hand.

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Now, tiki torches are among the growing list of products and logos being used by white nationalists.

Corporations, in a bid to protect their brands and images, have been quick to denounce the groups.

“TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed,” the company wrote Saturday on its Facebook page.

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Along with their tiki torches, some “Unite the Right” marchers in Charlottesville also carried signs that replicated the logo of the Detroit Red Wings.

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The team’s logo, altered slightly to incorporate Nazi imagery, is the apparent symbol representing a group from Michigan called the Detroit Right Wings, reported CNN.

In a sharp statement posted to social media and its website, the team said that the Detroit Red Wings “vehemently disagree with and are not associated in any way” with the Charlottesville rally.

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Late Sunday night, the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer was put on notice by GoDaddy, the Web hosting company that houses its domain.

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In November of last year, just days after President Trump won the White House, the Daily Stormer’s founder, Andrew Anglin, declared New Balance tennis shoes the “Official Shoes of White People.” Anglin said New Balance was the “uniform” of the alt-right, an umbrella term for those holding white supremacist and white nationalist ideals, because the company had praised Trump’s support for a trade policy stance.

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The company quickly released a statement rejecting the assertion: “New Balance does not tolerate bigotry or hatred in any form . . . New Balance is a values-driven organization and culture that believes in humanity, integrity, community and mutual respect for people around the world.”

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The chairman of the Fred Perry fashion label, a British company founded by the champion tennis player in 1952, watched helplessly as the self-described “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys appeared in Canada wearing black Fred Perry polo shirts.

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When the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. asked Fred Perry Chairman John Flynn about the far-right group’s obsession with the brand, he offered a history lesson in the company’s diverse roots.

“It is a shame that we have to even answer the question,” he added.

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