Bay Area Screen Printer Says Authorities Seized Mask Shipment Intended for Protestors
An Oakland, Calif., screen printer said that authorities seized a shipment of branded face masks intended for those protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.
The masks, which read “Stop Killing Black People,” were purchased by the Oakland-based Movement for Black Lives, a fiscally sponsored 501c3 nonprofit, for protestors in St. Louis, New York City, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., but reportedly never made it that far.
“We need these masks to keep ourselves safe,” Movement for Black Lives said in an Instagram post. “The pandemic together with the epidemic of police brutality has escalated the grave threat to Black lives and compounded suffering for Black families.”
Movement Ink, which has previously produced orders for similarly political merchandise, such as a Bernie Sanders shirt, declined to comment on the matter to Promo Marketing, but in its own Instagram post backed up M4BL’s claim that the masks were seized by authorities.
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Update! Law enforcement has seized these masks and are not stating why! When your called to support you step up or step back. Sending energy and prayers to those on the front lines! Right on community appreciation to all of you interested in supporting please hit up @thepalmtreepapi if your interested in supporting! @mvmnt4blklives
A post shared by Movement-Ink (@themovementink) on
“I have shipped a lot of stuff before,” Movement Ink owner Rene Quinonez told HuffPost. “It’s an inside joke that I’m always shipping a ton of stuff, usually next-day or two-day and paying some ridiculous fees. These guys know that I ship apparel. There was nothing out of the ordinary.”
A reporter for HuffPost viewed the shipment’s tracking information, which states that the four boxes were “seized by law enforcement,” and prompted the shipper to “contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further information.”
While the protests have brought more people outside, authorities and health care experts still recommend that people take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Per current health guidelines, wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to do so, especially around other people at a march or speaking event.
Whether the shipment was seized erroneously or targeted for its relation to Movement for Black Lives is a necessary distinction, and one that is still unclear. For promotional products businesses that work with political organizations, the answer matters, especially as it applies to future product shipments involving PACs, lobbying groups or activist organizations.
Update 6/5, 5:25 p.m. - According to HuffPo, the masks were released by Federal Agents several hours after the original story was published.
“These packages were originally set aside for further investigation because there were indications that they contained non-mailable matter,” the U.S. Postal Inspection Service told the publication. “Once Postal Inspectors confirmed the contents of the packages were in fact mailable, they were immediately placed back in the mail stream to be delivered at their intended destinations without further delay.”
A spokesperson for Movement for Black Lives told HuffPo the Postal Inspection Service statement was "insufficient and a cause for concern."