Retail giants Walmart and Sears have joined in on the #RemoveTheFlag movement in support of the Confederate flag being eliminated from the State Capitol building in South Carolina.
The racist symbolism of the Confederate flag has long been a controversial topic in politics and in communities throughout the United States, with discussion on the topic peaking again in the wake of the recent South Carolina Emmanuel AME shooting that left 9 Black church members dead at the hands of an admittedly prejudice 21-year-old white man. The flag quickly became a national focal point again last week when South Carolina governor Nikki Haley gave a somber speech to reporters about the shooting as the Confederate flag flew high over the state building in the background.
Public outcry demanding the that the flag be taken down immediately in light of the shooting resulted in the #RemoveTheFlag hashtag that has been trending on social media for the past few days. Although she initially supported the presence of the flag as recently as October of 2014, Governor Haley has since changed her position and recommended that it be removed during a press conference on Monday afternoon. Both before and after her recommendation, many were surprised to see a barrage of public support from the likes of former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as well as retail giant Walmart, and popular department store Sears, who all publicly condemned the presence of the flag in public places.
Walmart announced on Monday morning that they would be removing all Confederate flag-bearing merchandise from their shelves. CNN shared this statement from official Walmart spokesman Brian Nick:
“We never want to offend anyone with the products that we offer. We have taken steps to remove all items promoting the confederate flag from our assortment — whether in our stores or on our website,” said Walmart spokesman Brian Nick. “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.”
Mitt Romney used his Twitter account to support the #RemoveTheFlag movement with this message:
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) June 20, 2015