CHESTER, Conn. (WTNH)– A company called Ammo Crafters said it was kicked off the Chester fairgrounds because of a shirt designs.
Marcos Diaz, the COO of Ammo Crafters, said he was selling his merchandise at the Chester Fair over the weekend when he was told to leave.
Diaz said he was told to pack up his booth and leave the Chester Fair after there were complaints about the shirt design that states, “I heart guns.” The word “gun” was replaced by a silhouette image of a riffle.
He said it all started with Chester’s First Selectwoman, Lauren Gister.
Diaz told NEWS8, “She said that she couldn’t believe that we have this here. She also said it is because of companies like you guys that promote violence in our communities and promote school shootings.”
Diaz said an hour after he was asked to leave, the Chester Fair Association President gave him his money back and asked him to leave. Diaz, a Marine Corps veteran, said his company doesn’t promote gun violence and the shirts are designed by veterans.
Diaz added, “The original intent of it was to promote veteran awareness. This is what veterans do. This is what veterans like.”
Gister, also a former Marine Corps vet, said she didn’t have a problem with the shirt, Instead, she had a problem with the shirts being so close to a school bus.
Gister sent News 8 this statement:
“This is a very unfortunate situation that has exploded into something that was never intended. As we discussed, my ONLY concern when I saw the t-shirts hanging at the booth was the fact that they were framed by a school bus. In the current environment I felt that the optics of that pairing were terrible. When I went to speak to the vendor personally, he did not seem to understand that my concern was for the visual pairing of guns with a bus.
I recognize that he did not have a choice in where his booth was placed, and he obviously thought I was making some sort of political statement about the second amendment. Because I was unable to get him to understand why I was concerned, I took a picture and went to the fair office to make them aware that they put those vendors in a bad situation and they might want to do something about it.
I made no request or political statement to them, but I knew if there was a solution they would be the ones to make it, as the Chester Fair is a private enterprise and town officials do not have the power to make these decisions. I have spoken with the owner of Ammo Crafters and stated the same to him. If you have any further questions, please address them to the Chester Fair Board of Directors.”– Chester’s First Selectwoman, Lauren Gister
News 8 reached out to The Chester Agricultural and Mechanical Society.
In a statement, the organization said the First Selectwoman was not involved in the decision to ask the vendor to leave.
“The position of the fair association is that items promoting automatic weapons at a country fair are not appropriate for such a venue.”
Diaz has a message for the community: “If this ever did offend you guys in any way, shape, or form we – from the bottom of our hearts – do apologize because that was never our intent.”