Rocawear Pulls ‘Occupy All Streets’ T-Shirt From Website

By now if you’ve so much as glanced at a news story in the last two months you are aware of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests. The loosely organized, seemingly leaderless group has been protesting corporate corruption, what they view as undue corporate influence in government and growing social inequality in America by rallying outside financial institutions on Wall Street every day since September 17th. The message of the group, who refer to themselves as the 99% (as in everyone except America’s wealthiest and most influential) has resonated with many across the country as evidence by the off-shoot protests that have sprung up in major cities throughout the United States. As with all things the popular, the message of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement as garnered some high profile endorsements from celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Kayne West and Brad Pitt.

While the 99% does not seem to be bothered by these members of the 1% who’ve thrown their weight behind the cause, recording artist turned media mogul Jay-Z found out the hard way that the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement does not take too kindly to the 1% trying to make money off of their message. Last week Jay-Z’s clothing label, Rocawear unveiled a t-shirt that ostensibly supported the movement. The black tee featured the words ‘Occupy Wall Street’ with the ‘W’ crossed out and an ‘S’ added to the end to create the phrase ‘Occupy All Streets’. In a statement to Gawker a Rep for Rocawear said that “the ‘Occupy All Streets’ T-shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street.”

However the final part of the Rocawear’s statement to Gawker is what really turned heads when their Rep plainly said that “at this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.” Suddenly what looked like a powerful celebrity, and perhaps more importantly, corporate endorsement for the movement was re-framed as a member of the 1% capitalizing on the social distress of the 99%. While Rocawear had nearly a week to maneuver and perhaps offer an olive branch to ‘Occupy Wall Street’, the company instead forged ahead and placed the t-shirts on their retail site Friday morning. The resulting, and completely foreseeable, negative press backlash proved too much for Rocawear to endure and the offending tees were pulled from their site the very next day. In a message to TMZ a member of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ going by the pseudonym Grim issued a rebuttal to Rocawear’s actions saying “To attempt to profit off of the first important social moment of 50 years with an overpriced piece of cotton is an insult to the fight for economic civil rights known as #occupywallstreet”.

No word yet on whether or not Rocawear plans to work out some sort of compromise with ‘Occupy Wall Street’, but it would probably be in their best interest to start with damage control considering that the only thing their t-shirt based cash grab earned them was the ire of a movement that is decidedly anti-corporate.

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