“The Walking Dead” has once again caused an uproar, and this time it’s not over onscreen gore or a shocking character death.
A “Walking Dead” T-shirt has been removed for sale by a British clothing retailer, after a complaint that the shirt was “racist” and “fantastically offensive.”
The shirt in question bore the image of a baseball bat and the message “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” — a reference to a scene from the AMC zombie drama in which Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is deciding who in the protagonist group to kill.
In the scene, Negan continues the phrase with, “Catch a tiger by his toe” — though, historically in the U.K. the rhyme has employed the N-word rather than the word “tiger.”
The historical use caused shopper Ian Lucraft to complain after spotting the shirt at a branch of the U.K.’s Primark retail chain.
“We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text,” Lucraft told the Warwick Courier. “It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages.”
Lucraft, who said he saw the shirt while visiting Primark’s branch in Sheffield, England, with his wife, added, “It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.”
After Lucraft returned home, he said, he fired off a letter to Primark chief executive Paul Marchant, stating, “Mr Lucraft send a stinging letter, headed “Shocking Racist t-shirt in Primark” to the firm’s Chief Executive Paul Marchant at his offices in London. He wrote: “I assume that with some past incidents that I see have happened with Primark goods, you are anxious to prevent further bad publicity, and do not want to offend other shoppers.”
In a statement to TheWrap, a Primark spokesperson offered an apology for the shirt, saying that any offense that the shirt caused was “wholly unintentional.”
“The T-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the U.S. television series, ‘The Walking Dead,’ and the quote and image are taken directly from the show,” the spokesperson said. “Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologizes for this. Primark has pulled the product from sale.”