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Target pulls Confederate costume from sale following Charleston massacre

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Target has joined several other retailers in banning the sale of Confederate merchandise following the racially motivated massacre of nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church.

The mass shooting last week has prompted widespread calls, including from former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for the removal of the Confederate flag from several states where they are still flown – including South Carolina – amid complaints that it has come to symbolize racism and violence.

Reports emerged on Tuesday that sales of Confederate flags and associated goods had spiked, which NBCNews says has prompted several major retailers to ban them.

Among them is Target, which until today sold a Confederate Officer costume for $41.99, but joined Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Sears in removing Confederacy-related products from sale.

"Our intention is never to offend," a spokesperson told NBC. "We all recognize the great sensitivity around this and have removed the item from our website."

The shooting at the historic black Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston on Wednesday is said to have been carried out by an alleged white supremacist 21-year-old Dylann Roof, CNN reports, who has previously been pictured with Gen. Robert E. Lee's battle flag and at several sites linked to the Confederacy.

According to the Washington Post, defenders of the flag say it represents the South's role in the Civil War to limit the authority of President Lincoln and federal government over the states, but others point to the Confederacy's aims to preserve slavery in the United States.

Target is not the only Minneapolis institution that has been involved in the fallout from last week's shooting.

This past weekend saw a petition launched to rename Lake Calhoun, named after former vice president and South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, who ordered the creation of Fort Snelling but was also known as an avid supporter of slavery.

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