In the weeks leading up to the U.S. Capitol storming on Jan. 6, Amazon employees asked the company about clothing with the logos of two right-wing militias – The Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters – available for purchase on Amazon. And in the aftermath of the uprising, which was perpetrated by some rioters wearing equipment from at least one of the groups, some Amazon employees are demanding that the company remove the listings.
"(A) Yesterday, all products advocating the overthrow of the US government should be removed from the site," an old Amazon employee wrote in an internal email.
As of Monday, Amazon will still allow third-party merchants to list shirts, hats, and other gear for sale with the names and logos of the two organizations. And according to product listings viewed by Recode, many of the items also appear to have been stored in and shipped from Amazon warehouses.
Amazon spokesman Cecilia Fan declined to comment on Friday when Recode asked whether Oath Keeper and Three Percenter's items violated the company's sales policy. But she did provide a link to Amazon's offensive product policy, suggesting that was not the case. The policy says, in part, that "Amazon does not allow products that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance, or promote organizations with such views." According to the policy, Amazon will also remove items related to "terrorist organizations." Neither group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the US government.
The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are two of the foremost right-wing militias in the US created in the wake of Barack Obama's 2008 election. "While (The Oath Keepers) claims to only defend the constitution, the entire organization is based on a series of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy Americans' freedoms, "said the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Despite their anti-government stances, both groups are drawn to President Trump as the only federal official who will protect their rights. In the summer of 2020 a self-proclaimed three percent leader in Wisconsin said he conducted rifle training for some of those who were later arrested in a plot to kidnap the Democratic Governor of Michigan. A three percent leader in Washington state also called on members to occupy the State Capitol Building but reverse course after the riot in the Capitol last week.
According to published reports, flags of Three Percenter were spotted at last week's rally in Washington DC, culminating in an uprising. Frontline and ProPublica also reported on a group of men Spotted in bulletproof vests in the Capitol. "The eight men whose movements were videotaped were identified by ProPublica and Frontline as members of the Oath Keepers, a long-standing militia that has pledged to unleash civil war on Trump's behalf," the report read. “Members of the group joined the protesters and insurgents pouring into the Capitol. Footage taken later in the day shows Oath Keepers dragging a wounded comrade out of the building. "
Amazon's internal controversy comes because other ecommerce platforms have removed stores or listings in the wake of the Capitol attack. Shopify, the major ecommerce software maker, closed two online stores affiliated with President Trump last week. And later, eBay has removed listings for merchandise with the same phrase "MAGA Civil War" that adorned the shirts of some of the Capitol rioters. Still, like Amazon, eBay sells merchandise with the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers name and logos.
The tech giant's Amazon Web Services division also over the past weekend discontinued web hosting support for Parler, the conservative social media platform, which was also thrown out of Apple and Google app stores for failing to adequately enforce police calls for violence from its users. . And the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Stripe, the popular corporate payment platform, would no longer process card payments for Trump's campaign website.