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San Francisco-based Teespring says it didn't mean to sell Dylann Roof T-shirts

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Dylann Roof T-shirt

The San Francisco startup Teespring says it didn't mean to sell T-shirts showing convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof. The designs, uploaded by its users, were pulled Tuesday.

A San Francisco startup sold T-shirts glorifying convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof before pulling the designs Tuesday.

It’s not the first time the e-commerce startup, Teespring, has run into trouble with designs submitted by its users.

The latest trouble included three designs featuring Roof, the self-avowed white supremacist who was sentenced to death last year for killing nine black worshippers in a 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

One design shows Roof brandishing a Glock pistol. Another shows him waving a Confederate flag. Yet another attempts to make puns based on one of the most heinous hate crimes in recent American history.

Beneath a drawing of Roof’s bowl haircut, it says, “Keep Calm and Roof On.”

“Bowl everyone over with your impeccable style with this saintly-yet-subtle design that will have them all begging to be taken to church!” reads the description, which has since been removed from Teespring’s website.

Teespring says it sold 13 of the "keep calm" T-shirts, which were first listed earlier this month. No one bought the others, which were posted in February.

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The company says it removed the designs from its website as soon as it heard about them. Newsweek first reported on the designs.

The company said in a statement that it gets more than 100,000 designs submitted every day, and it uses technology to screen them “specifically to ensure that this type of content is not published on our site.” On Twitter, Teespring said it banned the users who uploaded them, and a spokeswoman said the company is scouring its site for references to other mass killers.

Its system has failed before. Last fall, it sold T-shirts that appeared to encourage violence against journalists in a flap that made national headlines.

The shirts read: "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required."

“We do not promote user-generated content of this nature and find it unacceptable,” Teespring said. “The company invests heavily in both human review and machine vision technology.”

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.

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