T-shirts that called Capitol riot participant Ashli Babbitt an “American Patriot” have worn out their welcome at Sears and Kmart.
It appears that a third-party seller listed the tees on the retailers’ websites shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building, when rioters including Babbitt breached the complex and interrupted the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. But the shirts went viral this week after Twitter
users including Vox reporter Aaron Ruper tweeted screenshots of the shirts.
Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter, was one of five people who died as a result of the mob storming the Capitol. She was shot by a Capitol Police officer while climbing through a broken window on a door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. Her death has become politicized, with some such as Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) saying she was “executed.”
Others have noted that while her death is indeed tragic, Capitol Officers were defending the seat of government from a violent mob. And this group argues that Babbitt was an insurrectionist, not a patriot. So this led some people to threaten to boycott Kmart and Sears
on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Babbitt supporters, on the other hand, called it “a perfect shirt.” The debate led both retailers to trend on Tuesday.
The retailers’ parent company Transformco was not immediately available for comment. But following the backlash, both sites have now pulled the shirts. “Thank you for bringing this product to our attention. This item is no longer available for purchase on Sears.com or kmart.com,” reads a statement from the official Sears Twitter account that was posted under Rupar’s original post.
Capitol Police officer and military veteran Brian Sicknick was also killed when the mob beat and overpowered him. Three other people on the scene were also killed; one died of a stroke, one died of a heart attack, and one appears to have been killed while attempting to fight through a police line.
Six months after the insurrection, more than 500 people have been arrested, and the Justice Department continues to hunt for participants. The FBI released 11 new videos of rioters attacking police officers on Tuesday, and asked the public to help identify them.
Speaking on the six-month anniversary of the deadly event, President Biden called the Jan. 6 siege “a violent and deadly assault on the people’s house.” He gave condolences to the families of the Capitol Police officers who were severely injured or killed while defending the complex.