Is Urban Outfitters Trying to Be as Offensive as It Possibly Can?

Urban Outfitters has really done it this time. The conservative-owned company (whose right-wing co-founder, president, and CEO Richard Hayne is worth nearly $2 billion) has managed to top its many previous offenses, including that Holocaust-reminiscent ‘Jewish Star’ shirt.

Over the weekend, the company was selling a vintage Kent State sweatshirt, complete with apparent blood splatter, on its website. The item, priced at $129, seemed to allude to the tragic 1970 campus massacre of anti-war student demonstrators by the Ohio National Guard that that left four dead and many more wounded, becoming a symbol of college activism and state brutality.

“We only have one, so get it or regret it!” read the listing. But who’s regretful now? This morning Urban Outfitters issued the following apology:

“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.”

Shortly after that, Kent State issued this statement:

“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.”

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