NEW YORK - A growing number of U.S. companies are barring sales of Confederate flags, along with goods bearing the insignia, in wake of the deadly rampage at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In announcing its ban on selling the flags and similarly themed merchandise on its site, eBay (EBAY) on Tuesday called the flag a "contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism."
"This decision is consistent with our long-standing policy that prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence and racial intolerance," said eBay (EBAY) spokeswoman Johnna Hoff.
Other big retailers to suspend sales of products with the Confederate battle flag include Amazon Inc. (AMZN); Etsy Inc. (ETSY), a popular online vendor of hand-made and other craft goods; Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD); novelty gifts vendor Spencer Gifts; Target Corp. (TGT); and Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT).
The shooting deaths of nine black church members last week in South Carolina has reignited debate on what the flag symbolizes.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said this week that the Confederate flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds
EBay Inc., based in San Jose, California, said it will begin notifying sellers of its decision and begin removing items that contain the Confederate flag on Tuesday. A search for "Confederate flag" brought up 1,400 listings, including pins, watches, ties, hats and sunglasses with an image of the flag on it.
Several high-profile CEOs have also entered the fray, with Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook saying in a post on Twitter that "My thoughts are with the victim's families in SC. Let us honor their lives by eradicating racism & removing the symbols & words that feed it."
In some cases, the move by companies to halt sales of Confederate flags and other items seems to have backfired. At online retail giant Amazon, demand for the flags was surging, with several models registering a huge jump in sales.