Ellison slammed Amazon for allowing hateful merchandise to be sold on its website. He sent the letter on Prime Day, when Amazon offers major discounts to people signed up for its subscription shipping service.
Amazon says it prohibits the sale of “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual, or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” An Amazon spokesperson said sellers must follow the guidelines or face “swift action including potential removal of their account.”
However, racist, Islamophobic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-Semitic groups take advantage of Amazon’s massive platform to sell products, according to a report released earlier this month by economic advocacy groups Partnership for Working Families and Action Center on Race and the Economy.
Ellison argued Amazon has not responded effectively to hate groups using the platform to promote their ideologies and fund their activities.
“Amazon must immediately cease doing business with groups that promote racist violence,” he wrote.
He requested that Amazon provide information about how much money it has made from hate groups’ products since 2015 and how the company plans to prevent future sales.
Amazon’s roughly 300 million active customers can find products on the site ranging from e-books to children’s toys that feature hateful language or symbols. The report cites several specific items being sold, including a costume of a lynching victim, Nazi memorabilia, books written by white supremacists and children’s toys featuring white nationalist symbol Pepe the Frog.
“Since the election of Donald Trump, hate groups have been on the rise, and racist violence has swelled in this country,” Ellison wrote. “The increase in political organizing around hateful ideologies like white nationalism has provided a growing base of support for racist policies like the Muslim ban, and the ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policies that have driven family separation.”
Read Ellison’s letter below:
This article has been updated with a statement from Amazon.