The Fraternal Order of Police urged Walmart to pull from shelves an ‘offensive’ piece of clothing having the “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” slogan on it. In response, the retail giant ceased the online sale of the controversial hooded sweatshirts and T-shirts the same day.
The company announced its decision Tuesday night. In a letter sent earlier that day, the nation’s largest police organization told the retailer that the shirts are offensive. In addition, the organization addressed a similar letter to e-commerce giant Amazon, complaining about its “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” T-shirts.
Walmart, Amazon Scrap the Controversial Items
FOP told the two retailers that making profit out of “strained relationships” and “commercializing our differences” would hamper healing process. The organization also said the T-shirt would just make the chain less popular among FOP members and retired police officers.
Later that day, the retailer said in a statement that it was ditching the clothing items over “customer complaints.” However, the company will continue to commercialize items bearing the “Black Lives Matter” slogan.
Walmart stated that it has millions of items sporting the BLM, Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter slogans. After several customer complaints, the retailer decided to remove the merchandize with the ‘bulletproof’ wording on it. Walmart sold the items through a third-party company called Old Glory Merchandise, which has yet to reply to a request for comment.
The next day, FOP leaders sent Amazon a similar request. The organization argued Amazon should ditch the merchandize too because it should share FOP’s goal of strengthening the ties between the police and communities they serve. After telling Amazon that its members are ‘very upset’ about the items, the group described the shirts as “very offensive.”
Amazon gets the controversial goods from several third-parties. On Wednesday, the online retailer removed the ‘bulletproof’ shirts from sale but didn’t touch the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” ones. The company failed to reply to a request for comment.
Police and BLM in Close Quarters
FOP has an ongoing feud with the BLM, which emerged after the shooting of Trayvon Martin when the police officer walked free. The group argues that BLM touts anti-police views and puts its members’ lives in danger. FOP members have recently started to describe attacks on law enforcement as hate crimes.
The BLM, on the other hand, had long accused the police of hate crimes towards its black members. In September, the group’s founder Alicia Garza went as far as to ask for police-free communities.
Garza argued that policing is dangerous especially when it comes to African Americans. She also said that the country respects its police officers too much and it fails to discipline them when they do wrong. Garza thinks that it isn’t about a handful of bad cops but about an entire “corroded and corrupt system.”
The BLM chief disclosed that many of the organization’s members weighed in on what police-free communities would look like. She argued that ‘moral appeals’ are not enough to stop the police from killing black people, whether they carry a weapon or not. At the time, Garza explained that rioting against the police is perfectly normal in communities that are denied housing and education.
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