Republican Tom Cotton has accused the retailer of promoting a transgender agenda to children
US retailer Target is facing public backlash, including criticism from Senator Tom Cotton, over an LGBTQ+ merchandising campaign that allegedly targets children and features a "satanist" brand.
"Even by the standards of woke corporations, Target's partnership with a satanist to push the trans agenda on children is remarkable," the Republican Arkansas senator said on Tuesday in a Twitter post. "The next time Target comes begging for help, Republicans should respond, 'Best of luck.'"
The Minneapolis-based retailer has removed some of its most controversial 'Pride Month' merchandise, citing "confrontational behavior" that allegedly put its employees at risk of harm. Target claimed that customers knocked down Pride displays at some stores and posted threatening videos on social media.
"Since introducing this year's collection, we've experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work," the company said on Wednesday in a statement. "Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior. Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year."
Target held an emergency meeting on Friday to deal with the backlash, reportedly to address safety concerns and avoid a devastating boycott like the one targeting Bud Light beer over a promotion featuring transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. The company ordered some managers to move Pride merchandise away from the front of their stores and remove large signage.
An unidentified Target "insider" told Fox News that the items were moved to the back of the store and given two-thirds less space. "I think given the current situation with Bud Light, the company is terrified of a Bud Light situation," the longtime employee said.
Cotton's rebuke was made in reference to Target's partnership with UK apparel brand Abprallen, which features such slogans as "Satan respects pronouns" and "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear." Some of its designs feature Baphomet, a goat-headed idol worshiped by satanists.
Abprallen founder Erik-James Carnell, who reportedly identifies as a transgender gay man, said last week in a Facebook post that his deal to design several items for Target's Pride collection was "incredibly exciting." He added, "I'm especially happy that young, closeted people will see it, and I hope that in some way, they'll feel a bit more comfortable in themselves."
None of the Abprallen items sold at Target were specifically geared toward children. The collection included a "Too Queer for Here" tote bag and a sweatshirt captioned, "Cure transphobia, not trans people." As of Wednesday afternoon, none of the items were available on Target's website.
Some of Target's Pride Month collection is geared toward children, ranging from a baby romper to a rainbow tutu skirt. Critics accused the retailer of selling "tuck-friendly" swimming suits for children, but the company said those items were only available in adult sizes.
Shares of Target have dropped about 8% this week in New York Stock Exchange trading, wiping out over $5 billion in market value.