Pepper spray, ‘Black Lives Matter’ shirts climb Amazon charts

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Protest gear is selling like hotcakes on Amazon.

Pepper spray and “Black Lives Matter” merchandise have become some of the e-tailer’s best sellers amid raging demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd.

A pocket-sized bottle of pepper spray with a keychain attachment was the top-selling item in Amazon’s “Sports & Outdoors” section as of early Tuesday afternoon, suggesting increased demand for self-defense gear as some protests turned violent.

Personal safety brand Sabre also sells the keychain in a bundle with a miniature stun gun — a $22.60 package that ranked 50th on the Sports & Outdoors list as of midday Tuesday. A different, rechargeable stun gun sold by Vipertek ranked 40th.

Other categories suggest shoppers are supporting protesters’ calls for racial justice with their wallets. “Black Lives Matter”-related T-shirts, for instance, accounted for seven of Amazon’s top 15 “novelty” clothing items.

A shirt in the No. 3 spot reads “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said as Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin held his knee on his neck. The same item recently ranked 41st in the broader overall clothing category.

Amazon’s two best-selling books on Tuesday were about racism: Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” and Ibram X. Kendi’s “How to Be an Antiracist.” “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander’s treatise on mass incarceration, sat at No. 10.

Amazon’s best-seller rankings are updated hourly reflect its most popular products based on sales, according to its website. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The Seattle-based colossus joined other tech giants this week in addressing Floyd’s death, saying it stood with black employees and customers “in the fight against systemic racism and injustice.” Some commenters on Twitter questioned the sincerity of the statement, citing concerns about how Amazon treats its warehouse workers.


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