Urban Outfitters has been forced to apologize after attempting to sell a vintage-style sweatshirt that looked to have come from Kent State University right after the mass shooting took place on school grounds in 1970.
The pink coloured sweatshirt with white logo seems to be covered with blood-stains and small caliber bullet holes.
Or the skeptic could say there are spots oversaturated with pink dye, turnign to red blotches, along with some kind of mechanical chewing of the fabric.
Either way, I can't see how a production or quality-control mistake could go overlooked by anyone with even a high school level of American history.
Even stranger is the fact that this sweatshirt was geared to a consumer group of university students, whom I'm sure know all about the Virginia Tech Massacre in April, 2007.
The shirt was originally priced at $129.00 USD.
Boing Boing reports that "The item is now 'sold out,' according to the website -- but it's appeared on eBay (Update: the auction was subsequently removed), with a $2500 "buy it now" price tag and a sleazy fig-leaf promise of a charity donation: "I ordered it and am waiting myself, as soon as it arrives, I'll ship it to you. Perfect for Halloween or whatever your deal is."
The Kent State shooting -- also known as the May 4 Massacre -- occurred in the context of the demonstrations against the Vietnam war. On a sunny May afternoon in Kent, Ohio, at the Kent State University, anti-war, student demonstrators were planning a protest against President Nixon's announcement of the Cambodian Campaign phase of the Vietnam war, which was announced earlier on April 30, 1970.
Around 2,000 students decided to gather before noon on campus, though they had been dissuaded from gathering, and rang the Liberty Bell.
Campus patrol and the National Guard were actively trying to disperse the crowd using tear gas, which because of the wind direction, had little effect. The students still refused to leave as they felt they had the moral authority to disobey the orders from their school.
The demonstration came to a tragic end when, according to witnesses at the scene, at 12:24 pm, Sgt. Myron Pryor began firing at the students with his .45 pistol. His gunshots triggered a number of guardsmen to also fire their respective rifles at the students.
In all, 29 of the 77 guardsmen claimed to have fired their weapons, using a final total of 67 rounds of ammunition. The shooting was determined to have lasted only 13 seconds, although John Kifner reported in the New York Times that "it appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer. The question of why the shots were fired remains widely debated. The full New York Times article can be found here.
The shootings killed four students and wounded nine. Two of the four students killed, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller, had participated in the protest, and the other two, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, had been walking from one class to the next at the time of their deaths. There is still debate today regarding what caused the men to fire, with one camp claiming the first shot was fired accidentally to those who claim that the demonstrators were deliberately fired upon.
A Gallup Poll taken immediately after the shootings showed that 58 per cent of respondents blamed the students, 11 per cent blamed the National Guard and 31 per cent expressed no opinion.
The Commission issued its findings in a September 1970 report that concluded that the Ohio National Guard shootings on May 4, 1970 were unjustified. The report said:
"Even if the guardsmen faced danger, it was not a danger that called for lethal force. The 61 shots by 28 guardsmen certainly cannot be justified. Apparently, no order to fire was given, and there was inadequate fire control discipline on Blanket Hill. The Kent State tragedy must mark the last time that, as a matter of course, loaded rifles are issued to guardsmen confronting student demonstrators."
Kent State University issued this statement in regards to the Urban Outfitters' sweatshirt:
"May 4, 1970 was a watershed moment for the country and especially the Kent State family. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.
We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. This item is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.
We invite the leaders of this company as well as anyone who invested in this item to tour our May 4 Visitors Center, which opened two years ago, to gain perspective on what happened 44 years ago and apply its meaning to the future."
In response to the public outcry, Urban Outfitters delivered this apology over Twitter -- yes, Twitter.
"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset."
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