Sep 16, 2014
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US retailer pulls bloody-looking Kent State sweatshirt

Sep 16, 2014

Hipster retailer Urban Outfitters apologized Monday for offering a one-off Kent State sweatshirt with faux bloodstains that recalled the 1970 student massacre at the Ohio university.

It pulled the $129 garment from the women's wear section of its website after Kent State said it took "great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit."

Four students were killed, and nine injured, on May 4, 1970 when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a mid-day campus protest against then-president Richard Nixon's expansion of the Vietnam war into Cambodia.

The incident was immortalized in the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song "Ohio" and a Pulitzer prize-winning photo of a female protester crying out in anguish over the prone body of one of the slain students.

"Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused," the Philadelphia-based retailer said in a statement.

"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," it said.

"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," it added.

"The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray."

'Beyond poor taste'

In a statement, Kent State - with nearly 40,000 students - said the sweatshirt "is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today."

"This shows the continued lowbrow of Wall Street, and Urban Outfitters continues to perpetuate a low standard of ethics," added Dean Kahler, 64, a freshman at Kent State when he was shot and left paralyzed for life, FoxNews.com reported.

Urban Outfitters, with around 400 outlets in North America and Europe that target young and trendy city dwellers, is no stranger to controversy, particularly when it comes to some of its edgier designs.

In 2012, a St Patrick's Day T-shirt that suggested Irish are drunkards prompted threats of a consumer boycott.

Earlier this year, T-shirts emblazoned with the word "depression" were pulled from stores amid a social media campaign that deemed them to be "insensitive."

Over the years, Jewish groups have condemned Urban Outfitters for T-shirts reminiscent of the six-pointed stars that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany - and for pitching Palestinian-style keffiyehs as "anti-war" scarves.

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