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 shirts on the retailers’ websites shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol complex, when rioters including Babbitt breached the complex and interrupted for several hours 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.
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 the smashed window of a door leading to the Speaker’s Lobby. Her death has become politicized in recent weeks, with some such as Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, saying she was “executed.”
From the archives (January 2021): Arizona Republicans positioned at center of post-election chaos — with two claimed to have aided Capitol siege planner
Trump said at a presidential-style press conference on Wednesday that there was “no reason” for Babbitt to have been shot. He’d organized the event to publicize his new class-action lawsuits against Google
and Twitter for “canceling” him after the tragic events of Jan. 6. Trump, who was impeached and later acquitted for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, downplayed Jan. 6 as an “unfortunate event” in his Wednesday remarks.
Others have noted that, while her death was indeed tragic, Capitol Police officers were defending the seat of government from a violent mob, with Babbitt categorized as an insurrectionist, even a political terrorist, not a patriot. Threats to boycott Kmart and Sears, brought together in 2004 under the umbrella of Sears Holdings Corp.
emerged Tuesday and Wednesday.
Babbitt supporters, on the other hand, called it “a perfect shirt,” possibly echoing Trump’s frequent description of his communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — at the core of Trump’s first impeachment — as “a perfect call.” The debate led both retailers to trend on Tuesday.
From the archives (September 2019): Trump asked Ukraine president to ‘look into’ Biden and son, call summary shows
Capitol Report (September 2019): Transcript of Trump call with Ukraine’s Zelensky: full text as released by White House
The retailers’ parent company, called 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 died after the pro-Trump mob overpowered and beat him, though a medical examiner later concluded his death resulted from natural causes. Three others on the scene also lost their lives; one died of a stroke, one 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 offered condolences to the families of the Capitol Police officers who were severely injured or killed while defending the complex.