Primark has removed a t-shirt promoting hit US TV show The Walking Dead from its stores after it was branded “fantastically offensive” and “racist” by an angry shopper.
Outraged Ian Lucraft was so offended by the “explicit” t-shirt that he complained directly to the discount clothing store’s chief executive - and Primark has now apologised and removed the men’s t-shirt from its branches.
Mr Lucraft and his wife Gwen had visited the firm’s recently opened branch in The Moor in Sheffield city centre to buy a present for their grandson when they spotted the white t-shirt with the message “eeny meeny miny moe” and a picture of a bloodied baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire.
The phrase and bat are both used by a character in the hit show.
He said: “We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text.
“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.
He said: “The slogan is, ‘Eeeny meenie miny moe….’. It stops there, but of course we all know what the original said, ‘catch a n***** by his toe’.
“The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood. This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.
“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.”
The slogan comes from the final episode of the sixth series of the critically acclaimed horror drama in which zombies have overrun a post-apocalyptic world.
In one scene, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bludgeons a character to death using a barbed-wire rapped baseball bat while uttering the phrase.
However, in the clip, he uses the word “tiger” rather than the N-word.
Mr Lucraft added: “I politely asked the young woman at the checkout if other people had questioned it, but she had not yet seen it as it was new stock.
“As we discussed it, she too was horrified.”
On returning home, 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, as well as circulating copies to The Star, Guardian and churches across Sheffield.
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.
“I can see that your website is strong on corporate responsibility so I hope you will take this t-shirt off sale immediately.”
A spokesman for Primark said the t-shirt had now been withdrawn and added: “The t-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the US television series, The Walking Dead, and the quote and image are taken directly from the show.
“Any offence caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologises for this.
“Primark is currently removing the product from sale.”
‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ - which can be spelled a number of ways - is a popular children’s counting rhyme, used to select a person in games such as tag. It is one of a large group of similar rhymes in which the child who is pointed to by the chanter on the last syllable is “counted out”. The rhyme has existed in various forms since well before 1820.