BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania fair vendor, who turned out to be a registered sex offender, was booted from the event after visitors complained that he was selling Nazi flags.
Visitors to the Bloomsburg Fair, which started Saturday, posted photos of the vendor’s flags on the fair’s Facebook page. The photos showed a red-and-white flag with a black swastika draped from one side of a booth and a flag endorsing Donald Trump and declaring “Make America Great Again” on the other side.
The fair’s president, Paul Reichart, said he became aware of the issue Monday morning. Officials removed the Nazi flags for sale and initially let the vendor, Lawrence Betsinger, continue to operate.
Patrons later posted photos of the booth showing that the Nazi flag had been replaced with a Confederate flag.
By Monday afternoon, officials decided to shut down the booth entirely after deeming other items, including bumper stickers, offensive.
“We like this to be a clean, American fair,” Reichart said. “We’re family-oriented and we don’t tolerate these things.”
The Associated Press was unable to locate a phone number for Betsinger, but he told Philadelphia magazine he has sold such items for 45 years and he doesn’t see why it is a problem just because some people complained.
“If you don’t want it, don’t look at it,” he told the magazine. “I’m not making anybody buy it. I guess there’s no First Amendment at the Bloomsburg Fair.”
The fair, about 130 miles northwest of Philadelphia, features amusement rides, concerts and agriculture exhibits.
In 2007, Betsinger pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in a deal with prosecutors.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he told the magazine. He said he downloaded some items online “and now I’m being punished for the rest of my life.”
He’s required to sign on to the Megan’s Law sex offender registry, and appeared to update the site with his temporary residence in Bloomsburg.
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