“Get it or regret it!” read the description for a “vintage,” one-of-a-kind Kent State sweatshirt that Urban Outfitters briefly offered for just $129. However, the fact that there was just one available for purchase is far from the most regrettable part of the item: the shirt was decorated with a blood spatter-like pattern, reminiscent of the 1970 “Kent State Massacre” that left four people dead.
The sweatshirt, reported by Buzzfeed after a screenshot made the rounds on Twitter, is now “sold out,” according to the site.
Here’s what the listing looked like before:
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) September 15, 2014
As outrage spread, Urban Outfitters issued an apology for the product on Monday morning, claiming that the product was “was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection.” The company added that the bright red stains and holes, which certainly seemed to suggest blood, were simply “discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.” The statement added: “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”
In an emailed statement, Kent State University lashed out at the retailer’s decision to sell the sweatshirt. “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit,” the statement reads, adding:
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.
Dean Kahler was paralyzed in the shooting, one of nine wounded by the Ohio National Guard. He told Fox News that the sweatshirt “shows the continued lowbrow of Wall Street, and Urban Outfitters continues to perpetuate a low standard of ethics.”
Although Urban Outfitters’ statement said the retailer “removed it immediately from our website,” someone on eBay claims to have actually purchased it.
A listing for the shirt, with a starting bid of $550, popped up on eBay shortly afterward. User “kentstatesweater” posted a screenshot of appears to be his or her online receipt for the purchase of the sweatshirt.
“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 description reads.
The seller claimed he or she will donate “50% of the profit to The Southern Poverty Law Center, who protect those who cannot protect themselves, often those who are victims of police brutality.”
In May of 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio.
This is what the Kent State shootings were like, according to a 1970 New York Times report from the scene:
“As the guardsmen, moving up the hill in single file, reached the crest, they suddenly turned, forming a skirmish line and opening fire.
The crackle of the rifle volley cut the suddenly still air. It appeared to go on, as a solid volley, for perhaps a full minute or a little longer.
Some of the students dived to the ground, crawling on the grass in terror. Others stood shocked or half crouched, apparently believing the troops were firing into the air. Some of the rifle barrels were pointed upward.
Near the top of the hill at the corner of Taylor Hall, a student crumpled over, spun sideways and fell to the ground, shot in the head.
>When the firing stopped, a slim girl, wearing a cowboy shirt and faded jeans, was lying face down on the road at the edge of the parking lot, blood pouring out onto the macadam, about 10 feet from this reporter.”
The shooting inspired a famous Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song, “Ohio.”
Here’s the full apology from Urban Outfitters:
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.
[This post has been updated.]