Disturbing Shirt Seen At Minnesota Trump Rally; Walmart & Zazzle Pull It From Their Inventory

WalmartShirt

By Patch.com

An inflammatory T-shirt worn by a man at Donald Trump’s only rally in Minnesota last year has been yanked off the shelves by one of the nation’s largest retailers. Walmart pulled the shirts, listed through third-party seller Teespring, after a journalist advocacy group complained that the shirts were threatening.

The message on the shirts reads: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.” Teespring competitor Zazzle removed the T-shirts from its inventory after one was spotted when Trump spoke in Minneapolis.

Jana Shortal, a reporter for KARE 11, took to social media a day after the Nov. 6, 2016 rally to address the man who wore the T-shirt:

Dear dude who wore this today, I’m a journalist in your community. I’m a taxpayer, in our community. I’m a proud Minnesotan. I’m a proud woman. I’m a ardent backer of the First Amendment. Which means I’m okay with your right to speak your mind, and wear that shirt sharing your thoughts. And so sir, I invite you to contact me so we can do an interview under the bright and beautiful lights of the free press in these United States so you can explain to me. To my face. What exactly it is you wish of me with your rope and your tree? Explain it to me. In the context of the land of the free. My email is public. Awaiting your acceptance of this invitation.

The more recent complaint about the T-shirts was lodged by the Radio Television Digital News Association, whose Voice of America First Amendment Task Force sent a letter to Walmart’s top executives Tuesday and asked that the T-shirt be removed from the retail giant’s online inventory.

The group’s executive director, Dan Shelley, said the shirts could “at the least … simply inflame the passions of those who either don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media. At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists.”

“We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today’s vitriolic political and ideological environment,” Shelley wrote, pointing out in his letter that nearly three dozen journalists have been physically assaulted so far this year across the country “merely for performing their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth.”

“We recognize that under the First Amendment, companies have a right to sell, and consumers have a right to purchase, these shirts,” Shelley said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, especially in today’s vitriolic climate.”

The statistics on attacks on journalists were gathered by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which the RTDNA helped establish. The organization’s press freedom advocacy group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, says that at least 48 journalists worldwide have been killed so far this year.

Walmart said the T-shirt design “clearly violates our policy” and that the shirts were removed “as soon as it was brought to our attention.” The company said it is conducting a thorough review of the Teespring’s assortment of T-shirts.

Teespring, which allows people to post shirt designs, confirmed that the shirt has been pulled and said it is working to prevent such content from slipping through its filters, The Associated Press reported.

“As soon as we were alerted to this content promoting violence against journalists we removed the content, added this content to our automated scanning systems, and kicked off a human sweep of the site to find and remove any similar content,” Teespring said.

In August, Teespring pulled a “rainbow swastika” T-shirt from its own site, promising at the time to more closely monitor its product line.

In a statement on the RTDNA website, Shelley said that while the group is “grateful for Walmart’s swift action” to remove the T-shirt, “but dismayed that it, and anyone else selling the shirt, would offer such an offensive and inflammatory product.” Read More

One Response to Disturbing Shirt Seen At Minnesota Trump Rally; Walmart & Zazzle Pull It From Their Inventory

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