Controversial Civil War store reopens, councilman resigns in protest
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KENNESAW, Georgia (WGCL) — A controversial store that sells Confederate memorabilia and Ku Klux Klan merchandise is back open in Kennesaw, prompting a city leader to resign.
Councilman James Eaton said he understands Wildman’s Civil War Surplus is a private business and acknowledges the owner went through the proper channels to reopen. However, he believes the business perpetuates blight and bigotry on Main Street.
“We can’t do anything and that’s the frustrating part of it,” Eaton said. “I had to go with my gut on this.”
Effective June 21, Eaton will step down from his post on the Kennesaw City Council. The 78-year-old, who has served on the council for six years, is frustrated the city issued a new business license to the new owner of the store, located at 2879 Main St.
“I’m told we crossed all of our t’s and dotted all of i’s, and we had no choice but to issue a business. That’s what the city manager told me,” Eaton explained.
The controversial store closed in January when Dent Myers, owner of 50 years, died. The store reopened on Tuesday under new ownership.
“The moral dilemma is we’ve got a business on Main Street that promotes bigotry and hatred,” Eaton said.
Eaton’s daughter, Cris, owns a chiropractic business across the street from Wildman’s. She’s now selling her building, writing in an online post, “I can no longer wait and hope that someone else will have the strength and leadership to say ‘no more.’”
“Bless ‘em. That’s my response, bless ‘em,” said Marjorie Lyon, the new owner and manager of Wildman’s. “I will not subscribe to the knee-jerk nonsense.”
Lyon described the items in her store as relics and artifacts. They include a mannequin draped in a KKK robe, dolls in black face, and signage many minorities would find offensive.
“It’s astounding, the arrogance and superiority of folks that want to claim, ‘live and let live’ and ‘we all need to get along’ are the ones keeping the great divide there,” said Lyon.
For Eaton, it’s a moral issue and he refuses to stay silent.
“It’s time to jump into the 21st century,” he said. “I have a big heart. I respect other people’s rights but if you’re going to stand up to me and espouse that kind of philosophy, you’re going to get a fight back from me.”
The City of Kennesaw issued the following statement:
“The City of Kennesaw has issued a business license to Dent Myers Enterprises Inc., doing business as Wildman’s Civil War Surplus (hereinafter referred to as “business license holder”). The business license holder went through the procedural process that is required by all businesses within the City of Kennesaw when applying for a new business license. This process includes on-site inspections by the Cobb County Fire Marshall’s Office and the City of Kennesaw Building Official. The business license holder obtained a Certificate of Occupancy and ultimately a legal business license. Dent Myers Enterprises Inc., doing business as Wildman’s Civil War Surplus, is legally permitted to operate within the city limits of the City of Kennesaw.
We are aware of the resignation of councilmember James “Doc” Eaton. We thank him for his many years of service to the City of Kennesaw and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Eaton will attend his final council meeting Monday evening. His daughter is encouraging others to attend and “prepare a positive statement to encourage our leaders to do the hard thing and lead.”
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