KENNESAW — Calling him an outdated relic who needs to close his Civil War shop and “go away,” nearly 100 demonstrators gathered downtown Friday to protest Dent Myers’ “attitudes” they say make minority residents feel unwelcome.
The group — mostly high school and university students and a few adults — filled a small park across from the shop known as Wildman’s Civil War Surplus on Main Street. Myers owns the store and the building that has housed his controversial shop for more than 40 years. The protesters urged city officials to call for the closure of the store, which displays Confederate antiques and books, as well as a decades-old Ku Klux Klan robe displayed in the back.
Scores of protesters chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Wildman’s has got to go” as cars passed through the busy intersection.
“He’s an embarrassment to this town, and he needs to close up and go away. Cobb County is better than that,” said Parker Quigley of Smyrna, one of the protesters. “We want Cobb County to be for everybody, and many of my black and Hispanic friends said they don’t feel welcome when they see the flags flying here. It gives off the wrong message. I don’t know him personally, but his store gives the impression that he keeps racism alive. I would love to see it all go to a museum where we can learn about it in the right context and not shove it in everyone’s faces.”
Jamie Forsyth, 17, said Myers should be “humiliated” and claimed the store owner “won’t pay attention to what’s going on around the country.
“Just get rid of it all. I don’t give a f- — about that history. It wouldn’t bother me to see the place burn to the ground,” the Acworth resident added during Friday’s protest.
Myers, 89, arrived at his store several hours earlier than usual Friday out of concern about threats to set fire to his business.
“From that social media stuff, I heard folks want to burn this place up,” he said.
Myers and several close friends watched from the building’s second floor porch as the crowd gathered below.
He viewed the protest with a sense of humor.
“Most of them haven’t even been inside this place. They’re only repeating what they’ve been told to say,” he said.
The protest was organized by two Kennesaw State University students. The crowd denounced police brutality and what they said is rapidly increasing racism and racial profiling by police departments across the country.
Kennesaw Police Dept. Chief Bill Westenberger met for more than 30 minutes with the crowd, explaining his department’s continuing training for officers.
“I sincerely understand the need to be heard. I’m glad we have the platform for them to be heard, and for us to have an ongoing discussion. We want everyone to understand that we don’t allow racism in our department, and that’s the prevailing message I was able to share with them,” Westenberger said.
Frederick Saunders of Acworth urged a boycott of other stores along Main Street until Myers is forced to close his shop, claiming Myers has been a foundation of hate for decades.
“You have a business on Main Street that promotes straight hatred, but the other businesses ignore it. It’s the elephant in the room,” he said.