GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — An auction of a controversial collection of Klu Klux Klan items in West Michigan is on hold, at least for now.
The Grand Haven company holding the auction is getting some heat for it. But the owner, who is defending the sale, says the items are pieces of history.
Since 24 Hour News 8 started looking into the auction Thursday, the website hosting the items has removed anything connected to the KKK, saying it’s too controversial.
“It’s not that we are racist, we are not KKK members,” said Hope Tripp.
Tripp is the owner of the Grand Haven location for Michigan Online Auctions. She wants to make it clear that the sale of these Ku Klux Klan items are not an endorsement of the group.
She says making the decision to sell the pieces was not taken lightly. The auction business has been in the family since the 1970s, and Tripp says this is the first time they’ve sold anything from the KKK.
“I went back and forth with it in my mind, too,” she said. “But it was a business decision to sell it.”
Tripp tells 24 Hour News 8 the owner of the items found them in a West Michigan storage unit he bought at auction. He didn’t want to be associated with the items so he gave them to Tripp to sell. The collection includings everything from a hood and robe to pictures and pins.
Even obscure items like business cards that say “you’ve been helped by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”
“I would have never known that they had these cards if I did not see them, so that is a part of history,” said Tripp.
Another piece from the collection is a filled out document to enroll a child in the Klan Youth Corp.
“It’s part of an evil past in our history that we probably should keep it in our memories so that we know what we don’t want to have happen again,” said Tripp. “I may not like it, you may not like it, but it is a part of history and some people do collect it.”
Some of the KKK memorabilia was going to be sold in a live auction Friday night. Now, the owner says she’s not sure what to do. She may end up being forced to give the stuff back to the owner.
Tripp says she would like to see the pieces donated to a museum.