The president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police organization, asked the retail giant to stop selling t-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the slogans ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Bulletproof’, which were available on Walmart’s website through a third-party seller.
On Tuesday night, Walmart said it would remove the shirts saying ‘Bulletproof,’ but not those with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan.
In the letter from Chuck Canterbury, the FOP president,to Walmart CEO C. Douglas McMillon, Canterbury said the Walmart website was selling ‘offensive shirts and sweatshirts,’ and urged him ‘to prohibit the use of the Walmart name and website for the retail sale of these products.’
‘I am concerned that allowing these articles to be sold in this way will damage your company’s good name amongst FOP members and other active and retired law enforcement officers,’ he continued.
Canterbury added: ‘Commercializing our differences will not help our local police and communities to build greater trust and respect for one another.’
In a statement, Walmart said: ‘Like other online retailers, we have a marketplace with millions of items offered by third parties that includes Blue Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter merchandise.
‘After hearing concerns from customers, we are removing the specific item with the ‘bulletproof’ reference.’
The ‘bulletproof’ shirts carry the word ‘Bulletproof’ in large print with ‘Black Lives Matter’ written underneath.
The shirts are being sold by Old Glory Merchandise, a Connecticut-based music and entertainment apparel dealer.
Both Old Glory and Walmart’s website also sell shirts with the pro-police slogan ‘Blue Lives Matter’.
Jim Pasco, the executive director of the police union in Washington, said union members had complained about the shirts because they felt Walmart was selling anti-police items.
‘There are a lot of people who feel too many guns are sold,’ Pasco told the Washington Post. ‘Why not speak out against things that might be seen as fomenting violence, rather than things that commit violence?’
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest movement emerged following the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and gained ground after several high-profile deaths at the hands of police.
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan is seen as offensive by many in law enforcement.