Urban Outfitters Kent State sweatshirt sparks controversy

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Urban Outfitters Sells Controversial Kent State Sweatshirt

Urban Outfitters is finding itself, once again, in the middle of controversy -- this time after releasing a "vintage Kent State sweatshirt" with splattered red paint that looked like blood.

Although the sweatshirt quickly sold out, many expressed their disgust with the retailer.

In 1970 the National Guard opened fire on Kent State students protesting the Vietnam War –– four of those students were killed.

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Urban Outfitters under fire for Kent State shirt
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Urban Outfitters Kent State sweatshirt sparks controversy
Urban Outfitters are selling a “vintage” Kent State jumper, blood splatters and all. Nothing says “hip” like murder. http://t.co/tq63ONAniq
Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It (cont) http://t.co/o3oKyPJFu8
Urban Outfitters is selling what looks like a bloody Kent State sweatshirt, so distasteful http://t.co/l7XO0ruZJi http://t.co/1sFa8HSziO
View of the large crowd that had gathered in front of the State House, at Boston Common, to protest the Kent State University shootings, 1970. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)
View of the large crowd with banners that had gathered in front of the State House, at Boston Common, to protest the Kent State University shootings, 1970. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)
View of the large crowd that had gathered in front of the State House, at Boston Common, to protest the Kent State University shootings, 1970. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)
View of the large crowd with banners that had gathered in front of the State House, at Boston Common, to protest the Kent State University shootings, 1970. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)
View of the large crowd that had gathered in front of the State House, at Boston Common, to protest the Kent State University shootings, 1970. (Photo by Spencer Grant/Getty Images)
Construction workers among a crowd at a counter demonstration against a student rally, being held in the wake of the Kent State shootings, Lower Manhattan, New York City, 8th May 1970. Workers mobilised by their labour union later attacked the student demonstrators in what became known as the Hard Hat Riot. (Photo by Leo Vals/Frederic Lewis/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
A group of youths cluster around a wounded person as Ohio National Guardsmen, wearing gas masks, hold their weapons in background on Kent State University campus in Kent, Ohio, Monday, May 4, 1970. Members of the Guards killed four students and injured nine during a campus protest against the Vietnam War. This picture was made by Kent State student photographer Douglas Moore. (AP Photo/Douglas Moore)
FILE - In a May 4, 1970 file photo, Ohio National Guard moves in on rioting students at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Four persons were killed and eleven wounded when National Guardsmen opened fire. The U.S. Justice Department, citing "insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers," won't reopen its investigation into the deadly 1970 shootings by Ohio National Guardsmen during a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez discussed the obstacles in a letter to Alan Canfora, a wounded student who requested that the investigation be reopened. The Justice Department said Tuesday, April 24, 2012 it would not comment beyond the letter. (AP Photo, File)
National Guard troops throw tear gas into the rioters at Kent State protesting the American invasion of Cambodia. Shortly after the troops opened fire on the unarmed students, killing four and and wounding nine others. Kent, Ohio, May 4, 1970. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
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Late Monday morning the company issued an apology on Twitter and said the item was "part of our sun-faded vintage collection" and that the red stains were "discoloration from the original shade of the shirt."

Kent State University released a statement saying: "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."

The company has yet to comment on its motivations in making the sweatshirt -- but did say it didn't intend to make reference to the 1970 events. Still, some argue the company was using shock to sell.

Past controversies include a shirt depicting Jesus holding a beer and another with the word "depression" repeated, which seemed to make light of the mental illness.

The Philadelphia Business Journal noted that Urban Outfitters ultimately discontinued production of the "depression" shirt and issued a public apology via Twitter.

Those are only a couple of Urban Outfitters' recent controversies, with the "depression" scandal occurring at the beginning of this year. But even now, it's unclear why –– besides the shooting –– Kent State was picked as the college to center the vintage sweatshirt around.

Urban Outfitters founder and, as Forbes notes, returning CEO Richard Hayne is a graduate of Lehigh University.

And Kent State University's website reports the school's current enrollment is more than 27,000 students, which makes it only the sixth largest college in Ohio, according to a nonprofit website.

Other retailers have been under fire for using sensitive materials: Zara was slammed for a shirt resembling a concentration camp uniform, and Walmart recently apologized for a nazi 'decorative' poster.

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