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Whitey Bulger Phenomenon Sparks T-Shirt Slogans, Online Imposters

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Free Whitey T-Shirt

Free Whitey T-Shirt

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LOWELL (CBS) – The staff at Noreast Custom Apparel has been working hard to keep up with demand this week.

The owner of the Lowell-based custom clothing company has a side business – www.tshirttimes.com.

He uses it to print up special-order tees that poke fun at current events, news, and sports.

This week’s topic: James “Whitey” Bulger. The day after his arrest, “FREE WHITEY” shirts hit the presses; hundreds have been ordered already.

“It’s merely commentary on the legend of Whitey and the legend of Southie, really,” explains Noreast’s owner, Dave Quigley.

WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports

Clearly there’s a market for the clothing; Quigley says the first orders for shirts came in seconds after they were offered online.

“For the most part people get a kick out of it and can appreciate the humor that we’re trying to bring to it,” the Westford native said.

Quigley “definitely” does not want Whitey to be freed, but he understands that his shirts are a way for people to be connected to this evolving story, albeit in an ironic way.

He’s not alone.

Bulger-related gear is all over the internet. You can order mugs, stickers, and pajamas on a growing number of websites.

Customizable ball caps and shirts can be designed in a rainbow of colors. Various slogans and pictures of the former fugitive adorn the different articles of clothes.

And while you’re on the web, take note of the many ‘Free Whitey’ pages, some with hundreds of fans, all over Facebook.

There are dozens and dozens of people pretending to be the accused murderer.

Over on Twitter, you can find more make-believe Whiteys – again, with hundreds of followers. In discussions among viewers of those pages, you will come across a complaint or two, some people saying this is all in bad taste.

But those remarks are overwhelmed by people who, it seems, are having a blast. It’s up for debate, though, whether their fun is at the expense of Whitey…or his victims.

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