The Overland Park Farmers’ Market has suspended a first-year vendor after his antisemitic and hate-filled social media posts emerged.
An Overland Park spokesperson confirmed in an email to the Post that Olathe-based Pepper Cave, owned by Justin Bale, was suspended indefinitely Wednesday apparently in response to complaints the city received about Bale’s social media activity, which in recent days has been filled with blatant antisemitic invective.
“These posts do not reflect the City’s or the Overland Park Farmers’ Market’s values,” city spokesperson Meg Ralph wrote to the Post. “In fact, this content directly contradicts our strategic goal of being a welcoming and inclusive community and organization.”
Some of the social media posts are directly tied to Bale’s business and even seem geared at capitalizing on his antisemitic beliefs. Jewish watchdog organization StopAntisemitism shared some of the antisemitic merchandise on Twitter.
Kansas City, MO – retailer @PepperCave_st has been booted from a farmers market after their atrocious antisemitic Facebook posts were brought to the attention of community members.
In one post, Pepper Cave promotes Zyklon gas, used by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust to… pic.twitter.com/gweN8DtmYU— StopAntisemitism (@StopAntisemites) August 25, 2023
“Taste the antisemitismz in every bite,” a recent post on Pepper Cave’s Gab account said.
Overland Park is conducting an investigation into the complaint against Pepper Cave as a potential violation of the farmers market’s rules and regulations, which you can find here.
“We have reminded all market vendors that the Overland Park Farmers’ Market is an open-minded and inclusive community, and request vendors represent themselves in accordance with market values,” Ralph said.
Bale shared on social media what appeared to be a response to the farmers market’s suspension of him, saying:
“Thanks for the heads-up! I really do appreciate your professionalism and hard work at the market.
“I’m surprised I lasted this long. For the record they’re literally genociding us. I’m merely trying to ensure the survival of White people.
“They call us ‘goyim’ and believe we only exist to serve them.
“I wish you and the market, and the vendors there nothing but success!”
He closed the message by saying, “Heil Hitler!”
The Post requested comment from Pepper Cave via email but did not get a response at the time this story published. This story will be updated if we receive a response.
Bale started his business officially late last year and joined the Overland Park Farmers’ Market this season as a new vendor.
The farmers market spotlighted Pepper Cave and other new vendors on social media this spring, including pictures of his stand.
Further back, closer to when Pepper Cave was first founded, the company’s Facebook page seemed to focus almost exclusively on the business of selling rubs and sauces as well as the process of growing the peppers for products.
However, in recent days, Pepper Cave’s Facebook page has shifted to openly referencing antisemitic ideology, including posting a photo of a Johnson County family who practices the Jewish faith standing behind a lit menorah with the caption, “The face of people who try to destroy anyone with an alternative view.”
Another post read: “Being a counter-semite is hard work. Luckily I can screenshot all of the kvetching and it turns into free advertising! Please leave your angry review, Sharon! Bonus points if you’re part of the LMNOP community,” another post said.
A Gab account associated with the Pepper Cave has been even more prolific, using antisemitic slurs and referencing the hate symbol 1488 in a discount code for online sales.
“So some Sharon got butthurt over truth bombs and got me kicked out of our farmers’ market. This means much more time to dedicate to online sales and we can switch the chip recipe to lard! Remember to save 14.88% on all orders with code: GasThejews,” one Gab post said.
Founded in 2016, Gab is a social media site that has grown up in recent years as an alternative to more mainstream sites like Facebook and Twitter, but it has also been criticized for allowing freer rein to hateful and antisemitic messages.
The company came under scrutiny in 2018 after a man who walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and shot and killed 11 people posted antisemitic messages on the site before his rampage.
Happy Valley Farm, a business based in De Soto, announced on Thursday that it has also cut ties with Pepper Cave.
“We NEVER, EVER had any idea he had these feelings,” Happy Valley Farm wrote. “I worked with him for two years about ten years ago, and NEVER had a single conversation with him that led me in any way to believe he harbored this hatred.”
Read Happy Valley Farm’s full statement on Facebook here.