Even Walmart Made a Bold Move on the Confederate Flag Issue

June 22nd 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Despite virulent associations, the Confederate flag holds a place on some state governmental regalia, and is used as a design emblazoned on clothing and accessories popular in certain circles. But that could all be changing as its presence and relative cultural pass come under increasing scrutiny in the aftermath of a racially-motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina last week that left nine dead.

One of the nation's largest retailers, Walmart, announced Monday evening that it would stop selling all Confederate flag merchandise from its stores, CNN is reporting.

The announcement Monday comes hours after a press conference at which South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her support for removing the flag from state grounds. A number of other top South Carolina lawmakers, including Republican Sens. Tom Scott and Lindsay Graham, who is also is running for president, announced their support for removing the flag.

According to CNN, Walmart.com sells clothing items like T-shirts and belt buckles, as well as standalone flags, bearing the Confederate stars and bars.

"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 web site," Walmart spokesman Brian Nick told CNN. "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."

A search by ATTN: on the Walmart's mobile website at 5 pm PST revealed that a 3' x 5' Confederate Flag was still available for purchase, retailing for $7.95, which is listed as a reduced price. But other items, such as a $6.79 knife with a flag printed on the handle, a flag belt buckle with the words "Country Girl," and a T-shirt with the words "Redneck Firefighter" and an image of a confederate flag fireman's helmet with a beer can attached to it reading "life support," were either out of stock or unavailable for purchase.

The Walmart announcement reportedly came after CNN inquired about Confederate merchandise for sale. Amazon and eBay were also contacted, but neither company has responded yet. Both of those online retailers still list any number of Confederate-themed items for sale, a search by ATTN: Monday afternoon revealed.

Walmart's announcement is just the latest signal that in the wake of violent racial killings, the flag and its associated history has flown quietly for too long under the radar––or up high on a flagpole––in popular culture.

"Today, we are here in a moment of unity in our state, without ill will, to say it's time to move the flag from the capitol grounds," Gov. Haley told reporters and a gathered crowd at Monday's press conference. "For good or for bad, whether it is on the state house grounds or in a museum, the flag will always be a part of the soil of South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that the flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state," she said.

Following Haley's speech, multiple 2016 presidential contenders, including Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, and Scott Walker, voiced support for the flag to be removed from statehouse grounds.