Student Designs Controversial Clothing Line
Published : September 26, 2017
“This vile and racist anti-police video is clearly a direct threat to the brave men and women that serve behind the badge,” Nass said in a press release.
Acted by UW students, the video begins with a young black male persecuted by white police officers who are wearing pigs’ heads. The male is depicted as being lynched by a noose made from an American flag, all while being watched by Justice, whose blindfold is removed.
“That was supposed to represent how the criminal justice system basically, literally hangs black people,” Pickett said in a secondary video explaining his message. “Literally leaves them out to dry and let their body dwindle in the wind.”
The video concludes with the cop’s beheading. Pickett holds the pig’s head in his right hand and a bloody machete in his left hand.
The grotesquely graphic video is an advertisement promoting Pickett’s “No Justice” clothing line for Insert Apparel. The sweatshirts include phrases such as “F---(expletive) the Police They the Biggest Gang in AmeriKKKa” and “Destroy the city that caused you to bury me,” among others. Pickett claims the sweatshirts are addressing police brutality. He was motivated for the new line after the response of President Donald Trump to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Pickett, an elementary education major, released his first line of clothing in October 2016, with a hoodie stating, “All White People Are Racist.”
Nass is calling for UW-Madison to denounce Pickett’s messages, but the university and campus police defend Pickett’s actions as free speech, though they do not agree with his message.
The university and the police are correct. However odious the speech may be, it is still protected under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, the First Amendment is not understood. According to polling data, only 39 percent of college students think “hate speech” is protected by the First Amendment. One in five college students believes violence is acceptable if it results in silencing such speech.
Pickett’s argument unravels (pun wholeheartedly intended) in the message itself. While he utilizes his right to free speech, his purpose of bringing attention of the terrorization of minority communities at the hands of the police is simply wrong. The narrative of police brutality against black people is dishonest, when statistically black men are “overwhelmingly unlikely to be victim of police violence.”
Pickett states the pig’s head, and thereby the police officers, represent the larger system, a colonizing force. He boldly is calling for the dismantling of the criminal justice system.
“Black people, we always ask for justice. We always ask, like no justice, no peace,” Pickett said in his Facebook explanation video. “But we don’t go around destroying cities. We don’t go around basically terrorizing people.”
Pickett is sending a mixed message. The apparels’ online description says nothing about the apparel, but is a four-line quote from Marxist cop killer Assata Shakur, who remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for terrorism and murder. Shakur, who has been living in exile in Cuba since 1984 after escaping from prison, was serving a life sentence after her and members of the Black Liberation Army robbed banks and “killed execution-style at point-blank range” a New Jersey state trooper in 1973.
Again, Pickett has every right to speak his mind, but trading one message of violence for another does not make the message any more just. But justice is not what Pickett seeks, at least not the justice that is provided by the same Constitution that protects his right to speak freely. If he cared about justice and doing what is moral, he would not be making broad-sweeping accusations against groups of people based on singular demographics.
While he has right to express his opinions across his chest, his actions speak much louder than his cheaply-made death threads.