SANFORD, Florida – The front left window of A&N Sports on 17-92 in Sanford is covered with a large lettering which reads: “Our Bill of Rights is immutable and unalterable. What part of “will not be violated” is not understood? “
Below the letter is a poster of Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler wearing a swastika on a red armband.
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The poster contains a quote she attributes to Hitler: “This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has a full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police will be more efficient, and the world will follow our example in the future. “
A&N Sports owner Bert Nelson admitted that one of his clients wondered if it was Hitler who actually said this, but insisted that was not the question.
“You know the story, how many people have died needlessly because of the feelings of a mad man,” Nelson said. “Eleven million people died from this nut [Hitler]. This nut draws attention to this sign that says this nation will go down in history as the first time a civilized nation will have a full gun registration. And we don’t want that kind of mentality to come to America.
Nelson, who owned the armory for 44 years, said he had not received any complaints about his poster until today. In fact, Nelson claimed the opposite, that customers have asked to take photos in front of his billboard, including his Jewish friends.
“I’ll try not to do anything that hurts anyone’s feelings, but looking at a sign that’s a picture of Hitler, how can that hurt anyone’s feelings, it’s a picture of the bad story, ”Nelson said.
Greater Orlando Jewish Federation executive director Keith Dvorchik and Holocaust Center interim CEO Shelley Lauten said Hitler’s image was painfully shattering.
“My first reaction was horror,” said Dvorchik. “Every time you see a picture of Adolf Hitler on a building like this, your stomach drops, your jaw drops. It’s really difficult. What are these people thinking, what are they saying? Why do they hate us, why are they so comfortable with this kind of hateful images? “
Lauten said so many other symbols would be less hurtful and send an equally strong message, such as George Washington’s resistance to the British.
“To use a symbol that dates back to a dictator in World War II who wiped out millions and millions of people is the wrong symbol,” Lauten said. “Such a disappointment that we have worked so hard for so many years to build a community that is focused on eliminating anti-Semitism and bigotry. And yet, it happens daily in our community.
Nelson said he was neither racist nor anti-Semitic.
“I think we’re pretty American here,” Nelson said. “I can see they should have read the sign but no I can’t accept that it’s a picture of anything. You have to take it in the context in which it is presented.
Dvorchik said Hitler’s photo distracts attention from any message Nelson is trying to convey.
“That says we hate people,” Dvorchik said. “We hate the Jews. We hate the LGBTQ community. We hate people with disabilities, we hate gypsies, we hate anyone who is different from us. And that’s the image he sends, whatever the intention.
Hitler murdered 6 million Jews and 5 million more.
“I think they should look past the attention grabber and see what the sign says,” Nelson said.
Nelson said he would be happy to have a conversation with Dvorchik and Lauten and listen to them, but won’t change the poster.
“Not now, now that it’s happened,” said Nelson. “Because I am definitely not an anti-Semite, I believe in freedom of speech and I believe that we have the right to keep and bear arms. “
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