Belfast Telegraph

'Grossly offensive' - Amazon slammed over 'Soldier F' t-shirts

More than a dozen t-shirts with the slogan
More than a dozen t-shirts with the slogan "I stand with Soldier F" are being sold
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

One of the world's largest online shopping sites has been slammed for allowing the sale of "grossly offensive" t-shirts in support of "Soldier F".

More than a dozen different t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "I stand with Soldier F" have appeared on Amazon in recent months.

The former British Army soldier is facing prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney, who were killed when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry in 1972.

He is also facing charges for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.

While Amazon is not selling the t-shirts directly, it allows retailers and individuals to list them for sale through the site.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the clothing is “grossly offensive” to families who lost loved ones on Bloody Sunday and should be removed from the site.

“The proliferation of banners across the north supporting a man who shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters are bad enough,” he said.

“The commercialisation of this sickening spectacle is disgusting and action should be taken to remove the merchandise from retailers.”

He has written to Amazon’s UK managing director, Doug Gurr.

"The actions of the soldiers on that day were described by British Prime Minister David Cameron as 'unjustified and unjustiable' after the publication of the Saville Report into Bloody Sunday," he wrote.

"The family members of those gunned down on Bloody Sunday continue their fight for truth, justice and accountability today. I am sure you will agree that it is grossly offensive and extremely insensitive to those who lost loved ones to see people wearing slogans supporting a man charged with the murder of their family members.

"I am, therefore, requesting that Amazon urgently removes the merchandise relating to Soldier F in acknowledgement of the pain endured by those families."

When contacted for a response by the Belfast Telegraph, an Amazon spokesperson said they will not be commenting on the issue.

Posting on social media, many users supported Mr Eastwood's view and said they are going to "boycott" Amazon.

"Disgusted to see items on sale on amazon supporting Soldier F. A gross affront to the victims of Bloody Sunday," one wrote.

"I wonder if it is possible to delete my @amazon account? Selling Soldier F merchandise is rather distasteful," posted another Twitter user.

Others, however, strongly disagreed, stating it was unfair to target Amazon.

One said: "Personally neither support or oppose Soldier F, but it is worth pointing out that we are all entitled to a rigorous defence. A defence that challenges evidence and testimonies.

"Until the verdict it's not fair to go after a business in this fashion."

Many people have also pointed out that t-shirts and other items carrying IRA emblems and slogans are also available on Amazon.

Since it was announced in March that Soldier F is to face prosecution, banners and flags in support of the former lance corporal have been erected across Northern Ireland, prompting condemnation and endorsement from across the political divide.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has informed relatives that it is anticipated Soldier F will appear at Londonderry Magistrates' Court in August.

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