Confederate monuments have been coming down across America over the past two years, but these actions caused little fanfare until August 12, when a riot broke out involving removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue in Charlottesville, VA. So, effigies of dozens more have come down or are in the process.
Now a petitioner on Change.org has set his sights on three new targets: eBay, PayPal and Amazon.com for “actively supporting racist sellers and buyers.” More than 7,800 people have signed the petition, which was started by a Texas man named John Cohen.
“Ebay, PayPal and Amazon support hate groups by selling their items for profit. PayPal is the bank for these groups,” the petition says. “To their credit, Ebay and Amazon have deleted most Nazi items, but domestic terrorism must be addressed.”
Cohen called for the companies to “stop cashing in on hate in America.” He wants sales stopped of trinkets and clothing but not books, music or films because that would entail artistic censorship.
“ALL items containing the following should be removed permanently: The South Will Rise Again, anything with the Confederate flag, anything celebrating Confederate 'heros'. This includes flags, shirts, keychains, stickers, license plates, koozies, cups, hats, etc. ...,” the petition reads.
Amazon, which has numerous Confederate items on its site, did not respond to a request for comment.
Confederate items can also be found on eBay, even though the site has had a policy since 2015 banning such sales.
“We have more than 1 billion items listed on our marketplace ... we have measures in place to defer items that violate our policies from being listed,” said eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore. “When these items are discovered, they are removed.”
EBay monitors its site with keyword filters and also has a “report this item” link for customers. A team also conducts daily sweeps for such items and “we take action against sellers who attempt to circumvent our policies,” Moore said.
Similarly, PayPal said in a statement that the company's “longstanding policy is not to allow our services to be used to accept payments or donations to organizations for activities that promote hate, violence or racial intolerance. We regularly assess activity against our Acceptable Use Policy and carefully review actions reported to us, and will discontinue our relationship with account holders who are found to violate our policies.”
Another Texan, Rapper Trae Tha Truth, who rescued hundreds of victims during the Houston flood and is continuing to provide relief to thousands more, said Confederate items and statues promote a dark period in America and hold the country back from coming together. He is in favor of removing the statutes and stopping sales of related items.
“At the end of the day, I’m for helping people in general,” he said during a break from delivering supplies to flood victims. “When I’m helping people, I’m not looking at a color, I’m looking at people in need. I’m not going to handpick people who need my help. We’ve got to a place where we are all coming together.”
Trae has started a victim’s fund that is now at $142,000 of his $250,000 goal.
“People are in need and the last thing on my mind is racist stuff people are doing,” he said. “If someone is promoting this stuff, it’s hatred.”
Former NFL star and current sports analyst George Wrighster said he doesn’t like seeing Confederate images, but doesn’t think it’s right to censor what people sell or buy. However, he doesn’t think the statutes should be displayed on public property.
“The flags represent traitors who don't believe in the fundamental values of America, that all men are created equal,” he said. “I don't like the flag and I form my own opinions about those who do fly them proudly. However, people do and should have the right to buy, sell, and own them.”