Stroudsburg, Monroe County – The sale of anti-police shirts featuring an expletive and artwork that resembles blood spatter caused an online uproar.
Amazon has stopped selling the shirts but other sites have continued selling them.
Amazon faced a massive backlash when photos of anti-police shirt went viral. Carol Tucker of Henryville reacted, “It’s disgusting.”
Another shirt declared, “Cops Kill Blacks.” That also raised concerns. Tucker said, “Oh my goodness. What is this world coming to?”
It appears a third party seller was distributing the shirts through Amazon. Some shoppers suggested the company should screen items sold through its marketplace.”I think if people don’t speak up then they are lending tacit approval to it,” noted Judy Smith of Virginia.
Many people threatened to boycott Amazon. “If Amazon is selling them, I think the best thing would be to just stop shopping at Amazon,” said Smith.
However, by Monday afternoon, those shirts were removed from Amazon.
The shirts and others like them are still available on many websites.
The popular crafting site Etsy includes a t-shirt with a burning police car drawing and the words, “Do you smell bacon?” Etsy sellers also have items that say, “The Only Good Cop is a Dead Cop,” “All Cops are Bastards,” and “Piss on a Cop.”
Some are concerned because they believe those slogans advocate violence against police. Yolanda Stewart of Stroudsburg said, “I wouldn’t buy none of these anyway.” She added, “That’s very negative and the words that they’re using is not appropriate.”
Some worry these types of items make it difficult for police and communities to have positive conversations. “All cops is not bad and to say things like that about the officers is not good because we need them,” said Stewart.
Others argued that the shirts are free speech. One person wrote in the online forum for corporateofficeheadquarters.com, “The first amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, and any person in American should be allowed to purchase and wear whatever shirt they wish, regardless of how offensive it may be.”
Representatives for Amazon and Etsy did not return requests for comment on this story.
Ariana from Etsy responded by e-mail to Laurie’s story
Etsy appreciates the services provided by our police officers and all public servants and we do not, in any way, support violence against them. Indeed, Etsy prohibits items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others, including credible threats of harm or violence. You can find our Prohibited Items Policy here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/prohibited/.
We understand that “F*** tha [sic] Police” is a pop culture reference, and we believe this reference has gained more popularity recently with the release of the film Straight Outta Compton. We think it is important to protect free speech, as long as it does not violate our policies — i.e., posing an actual threat to the safety of self or others.
In crafting our policies, we strive to strike the right balance between creative freedom, Etsy’s values, and establishing a safe and respectful marketplace for members. The challenge of defining and eliminating offensive items raises deep and complex issues — both philosophical and pragmatic — which we at Etsy wrestle with regularly. We strive to think about our site holistically and determine what is best for the entire community. We recognize that these items may strike a chord, considering recent events, and we’ll continue to monitor the situation and evaluate our policies accordingly.