The country's largest police union is asking retail giant Wal-Mart to remove T-shirts with the phrases "bulletproof" and "Black Lives Matter" from its website. The corporation officially responded on Dec. 20, saying it would remove the T-shirts saying "bulletproof," but not the "Black Lives Matter" shirts.
Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, wrote to Wal-Mart CEO C. Douglas McMillon asking if the company would remove both types of product from its website, reports The Washington Post. The T-shirts are sold through the Wal-Mart website, but are produced by Old Glory Merchandise, a Connecticut music and entertainment apparel dealer.
"I urge you to prohibit the use of the Walmart name and website for the retail sale of these products," wrote Canterbury, calling the shirts "offensive."
"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. “Commercializing our differences will not help our local police and communities to build greater trust and respect for one another.”
The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2012, after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, followed by a number of police shootings beginning in 2014. According to its website, it is "working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."
To many conservatives, the movement is seen as a terrorist organization, with Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos calling it "the last socially acceptable hate group."
Wal-Mart responded the FOP, saying it will remove the shirts with the header "Bulletproof."
"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," said a Wal-Mart spokesperson in a statement to The Washington Post. "After hearing concerns from customers, we are removing the specific item with the ‘bulletproof’ reference."
FOP Executive Director Jim Pasco said the "Bulletproof" shirt in particular encouraged violence against police. The shirt has a subhead reading "Black Lives Matter," leaving some officers feeling as though the merchandise promotes further division between the BLM movement and the police.
“There are a lot of people who feel too many guns are sold,” he said. “Why not speak out against things that might be seen as fomenting violence, rather than things that commit violence?”
The "Black Lives Matter" shirt and similar products will continue to be sold through the Wal-Mart website.