Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David ‘Not Vaccinated’ patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Sandy Mazza, Nashville Tennessean
Published 1:36 p.m. ET May 29, 2021 | Updated 6:58 p.m. ET May 30, 2021

From vaccination rates to case counts, here are some important COVID-19 statistics you should know from May 2021.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee hat seller removed an Instagram post after fueling social media controversy selling a patch that looks like the Jewish Star of David.

HatWRKS, run by hatmaker Gigi Gaskins, posted a photo of a woman wearing a bright yellow star sticker with the words: “Not Vaccinated.”

Social media users responded with the hashtag #HateWorks, calling the patch anti-Semitic and “disgusting.” The original Instagram post had thousands of comments before being taken down.

The Star of David has six points and is formed of two, often interlaced, equilateral triangles. Approximately 6 million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust, when Nazis forced Jews to identify themselves by wearing a yellow six-pointed star.

The business responded with an Instagram statement defending the move: 

“People are so outraged by my post? But are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? If you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you not me. I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance.”

In a separate Instagram post, @hatwrksnashville said it was drawing a “historical parallel to fascism,” hypothetically if people start having to “show your papers” regarding vaccination.

Hatwrks later posted an apology Saturday, stating the business did not mean to “trivialize” or “disrespect” what happened during the Holocaust.

“In no way did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people. That is not who I am & what I stand for. My intent was not to exploit or make a profit.”

The statement added: “My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. I sincerely apologize for any insensitivity.”

Jewish groups slam social media post

The Tennessee Holocaust Commission responded to the original post on Saturday, calling it “horrific.”

“We have seen a surge in antisemitism across the US and abroad,” the commission posted on Facebook. “We must continue to speak out. Using the yellow star or any Holocaust imagery or symbols for another purpose is beyond reprehensible and a disservice to the memory of the six million Jews who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust.”

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

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Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Dr. Theresa Maresca from the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB), lets a collegue write on her arm For the Love of Native People over the spot where she received a shot of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at the SIHB, on Dec. 21, 2020 in Seattle, Wash. The Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) received 500 doses of the FDA-approved Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today. Karen Ducey, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Long-term care patient Carlos Alegre receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from licensed vocational nurse Virgie Vivar at Birch Patrick Skilled Nursing Facility at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on Dec. 21, 2020 in Chula Vista, Calif. 72-year-old Alegre is the first patient to receive the vaccine in San Diego County. Long-term care patients and frontline workers are among those in the CDCÕs highest priority group for vaccination. Mario Tama, Getty ImagesFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Hartford HealthCare employee Wilfredo Rivera reacts after receiving the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 as Hartford HealthCare Nurse Laura Bailey, right, looks on at Hartford Hospital, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. Hartford HealthCare was the first in the state to administer the Moderna vaccine. Jessica Hill, APFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Marie Branham, right, resident services director at Atria Springdale assisted living community, receives the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine from CVS pharmacist Shereen Keshta at the facility in Louisville, Ky. on Dec. 21, 2020. Sam Upshaw Jr., Courier Journal via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss. on Dec. 20, 2020. While shipments of the vaccine are rolling out to many health care workers and nursing homes across the country, it could be months before itÕs available for the general public. Paul Sancya, APFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Chief Nursing Officer Robin L. Steaban, left, who administered the vaccine, stands with nurse practitioner Lisa Flemmons, Dr. Todd Rice, nurse Cody Hamilton and respiratory therapist Sophie Whitaker after they received a COVID-19 vaccine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 17, 2020. George Walker IV, THE TENNESSEAN via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Nurse practitioner Franklin Grauzer receives a high-five from his daughter, Emerson, 5, after he received a COVID-19 vaccine at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 17, 2020. Andrew Nelles, The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Tim King, a citizen of the Cherokee nation and a Cherokee language speaker, receives ther COVID-19 vaccine at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center Dec. 17, 2020, in Tahlequah, Okla. On his left arm is a tattoo of a dreamcatcher with the word Cherokee. Mike Simons, APFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Dr. Julie Kennerly-Shah draws out a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as its distributed to healthcare workers on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center East in Columbus, Ohio. Vaccine shipments began arriving in Ohio on Monday and frontline health care workers have been the first to receive the vaccine. Joshua A. Bickel, Columbus DispatchFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Nursing student Abriana Martinez administers the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Dr. Erik Pronske at the University of Texas Health Austin Dell Medical School on Tuesday December 15, 2020. Jay Janner, Austin American-StatesmanFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Allison Wynes, a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) nurse practitioner, records a video for her friends announcing she had received one of first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, on the 12th floor of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa. Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-CitizenFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Sandra Lindsay, left, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in New York. Mark Lennihan, APFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Courtney Schneider, 40, of Grand Rapids and her son, Elliot Schneider, 8, of Grand Rapids wave flags at the FedEx plane carrying the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Dec. 13, 2020. Rodney Coleman-Robinson, Detroit Free Press via USA TODAY NETWORKFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. on Dec. 13, 2020. Morry Gash, PoolFullscreen

Tennessee hat shop apologizes for posting Star of David 'Not Vaccinated' patch; Jewish groups decry social media post

Nurse Chris Nelson gets the COVID-19 vaccine at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Andrew Craft, USA TODAY NetworkFullscreen

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The Jewish Federation & Jewish Foundation of Nashville & Middle Tennessee also responded to the controversy on social media on Sunday.  

“Thank you to everyone locally and nationally who expressed collective outrage regarding the offensiveness of Nazi and Holocaust imagery to promote a political agenda here in Nashville,” the foundation posted on Facebook. “This level of willful ignorance and craven cruelty is a disservice to the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.”

“In the coming days, the Jewish community will continue to call on all Nashvillians, including religious, civic, business and political organizations and leaders, to work with us to make sure that our community is one of respect, love and belonging. This is a time to continue to come together as a community with positive action, to ensure that Nashville is a #NOHATE community, where everyone feels safe, welcome and included.”

Stetson bows out of distribution

Calling the original Star of David post “offensive,” iconic hatmaker Stetson USA announced on its Twitter account Saturday that it would stop distributing its products to the store.

“As a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS in Nashville, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products. We thank you for your continued support and patience,” the post said.

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