Sunday 4 December 2016

Google, Amazon, eBay join other retailers banning Confederate flag

Mari Saito

Published 23/06/2015 | 22:50

A Confederate flag flies on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama (AP/The Montgomery Advertiser)
A Confederate flag flies on the grounds of the Alabama Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama (AP/The Montgomery Advertiser)

Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc have announced they were pulling Confederate flag merchandise from their websites, following other retailers reacting to last week's racially motivated mass shooting at a historic black South Carolina church.

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Google Inc said  it would remove content containing the Confederate flag from its Google Shopping service and ads.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Sears Holdings Corp on Monday banned sales of products bearing the image of the Confederate battle flag.

The "Stars and Bars" has become a lightning rod for outrage over the killing of nine black men and women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston last Wednesday. Accused gunman Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, is seen posing with the flag in photos posted on a website reported to be his.

People stand outside during a vigil outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. Reuters/Carlo Allegri
People stand outside during a vigil outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, are laid near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Charleston residents Darby Jenkins (L) and his mother Ashley, leave flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Charleston residents Darby Jenkins (R) and his mother Ashley, look for a spot to leave flowers for the victims of Wednesday's shootings, near a police barricade in Charleston, South Carolina June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill

Read more here: Wal-Mart to stop selling merchandise with Confederate flag  

South Carolina lawmakers today voted to open debate on removing the flag from the State House grounds, after state Governor Nikki Haley and others called for it to be taken down.

A search on Amazon's website on Tuesday found tens of thousands of Confederate flags and merchandise such as T-shirts and knives bearing the flag's image.

Most of the flags and related products on Amazon and eBay ranged in price from $5 to $10. Clicking on some of the Confederate flags and related items on Amazon's website took users to an error page.

Parishioners mourn at the service in Charleston
Parishioners mourn at the service in Charleston
FORGIVENESS: The congregation at a prayer vigil in Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston
Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof, 21, into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, June 18, 2015. Roof, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, is accused of killing nine people at a Bible-study meeting in a historic African-American church in C
A Charleston police officer walks past the entrance of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 18, 2015. Police in Charleston were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city's mayor described as a hate crime. REUTERS/Randall Hill TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A small prayer circle forms nearby where police are responding to a shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015. A gunman opened fire on Wednesday evening at the historic African-American church in downtown Charleston. REUTERS/Randall Hill

Read more here: Call to remove Confederate flag  

"Is this a big sacrifice for retailers? No. But, symbolically, it's a good step," said David Satterfield, an executive vice president of G.F. Blunting and Co, a strategic communications firm in California.

"A significant percentage of your consumer base is completely offended by what the flag stands for, and it doesn't make sense carrying it," he said.

Separately, privately owned Valley Forge Flag, one of the most prominent U.S. flag manufacturers, said on Tuesday it will stop making and selling Confederate flags.

Read more here: Barack Obama uses N-word as he says 'US isn't cured of racism'  

In announcing its decision to pull Confederate flags on Tuesday, eBay said the banner had become a "contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism." The website, which carries thousands of items bearing the flag, including clothing, will immediately ban new listings of merchandise and tell sellers of such merchandise that they have to stop.

Ebay does not break out sales of individual items sold on its site, but sources said this involves a tiny amount of sales for the company.

Analysts said it could take some time for online retailers like eBay to remove merchandise posted by third-party sellers, given the sheer volume of products listed. There are around 800 million listings globally on eBay.

E-commerce website Etsy also said it would remove all flag-related merchandise from its marketplace, which lists handmade and artisanal products.

Dollar Tree Inc, Family Dollar Stores Inc, Dollar General and Target Corp said they do not carry any Confederate flag-related merchandise.

Read more here: Family in church as pastor murdered  

Reuters

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