Breonna Taylor is now a household name.
The Black woman killed by police during an overnight raid in March in Kentucky has for many become a reminder of racial injustice.
Images of her likeness have popped up on hundreds of products – from T-shirts to face masks. But, who, exactly, is selling them? And where is all the money going?
If you type “Breonna Taylor” into the search bar on Amazon. more than 650 products popped up. But when you try to get more information about the seller, the vast majority only cite boilerplate language about being committed to providing each customer with the “highest standard of customer care.”
NBC 7 Investigates cataloged the product descriptions and seller information of the first page of product results for “Breonna Taylor” on Amazon. The vast majority were a jumble of letters for a business name or address, many of them based in China with little to no information about the vendor.
Not one mentioned anything about donating a portion of the proceeds to a cause connected to Breonna Taylor.
“When I see an image of Breonna Taylor,” said Enrique Morones, the executive director of San Diego-based human rights group Gente Unida. “I think of an innocent woman who was killed while she was sleeping in bed.”
Morones, who also participates in a weekly 5K run/walk for Taylor, said he owns a Breonna Taylor T-shirt – one he says he purchased from a local vendor who donates a portion of the proceeds to the Breonna Taylor Foundation. But he knows that’s not the case with all Breonna Taylor products.
“I’m thinking, 'Are they just trying to profit from a horrible situation?' ” wondered Morones. “Yeah, there are some people who are. And I think that’s wrong. No doubt that’s wrong.”
“The intention of the consumer is a positive one,” San Diego State University marketing professor Miro Copic told NBC 7 on Tuesday. “And the people who are selling, you know, are taking advantage of an opportunity, which is unfortunate.”
Amazon is not the vendor for the bulk of these products, and selling Breonna Taylor merchandise for a profit, without donating proceeds to a related cause, is not illegal.
“You have to do your own research,” Copic said. “You can’t just assume some portion of the proceeds of your purchase are going to a cause.”
Morones said that people who care about racial-equality movements should make sure they're not lining the wrong pockets and insisted that wearing similar products is important and does make an impact.
“Yes, it helps," Morones said. "It helps. That affects change because unless you know your history, you’re bound to repeat it.”
We reached out to an attorney for Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, but a representative of the law firm declined to comment.