Retailers and state governments across the United States are moving to ban the Confederate flag, a southern battle flag used during the American Civil War that has since become associated with white supremacist groups.
The moves come in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a black church by a white supremacist who posted photos of himself with the flag. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley agreed to take the flag down from the state capitol building. (It can still be flown on private property.)
Now retailers are following suit and starting to pull t-shirts, license plates, and belt buckles bearing the Confederate image—a star-adorned blue X over a red field—from their shelves.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, says it has now taken down reproductions of the Confederate flag and any other Confederate-themed paraphernalia from its physical and online stores. “We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer,” spokesman Brian Nick said in a statement emailed to Quartz. “We have a process in place to help lead us to the right decisions when it comes to the merchandise we sell. Still, at times, items make their way into our assortment improperly—this is one of those instances.”
Sears Holdings, which operates Kmart and the department store Sears, said it will not allow third parties to sell confederate-themed merchandise on its online platforms anymore (and it does not directly sell such items). Amazon and eBay were not immediately available to indicate whether they will stop sales of the flag on their platforms. Currently on Amazon the symbol can be found on clothing and accessories—bikinis, iPhone covers, hunting knives—as well as household decor like lampshades and bedspreads.
To others, the flag—which was never actually the official flag of the confederacy of southern states that tried to secede from the union—is meant to be just a symbol of the Old South. Still, other states are beginning to rethink the use of the image. Starting this year, California banned sales or displays of the flag in government agencies.
On June 22 a Republican lawmaker in Mississippi, whose state flag features a replica of the confederate emblem, called for it to be changed. ”We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Philip Gunn, speaker of the state house said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed.”