University of Wisconsin student Eneale Pickett directed and produced a short advertisement for his new clothing line called “Insert Apparel.” The video depicts a black man being lynched by police officers wearing pink rubber pig masks, followed by a group of masked men holding weapons and the bloodied, severed heads of the pig-cops over the course of one minute and 45 seconds. As of this writing the video is still available on YouTube and Twitter.
In summary, the video begins with red and white text that reads: “WARNING – Some viewers may find the following video disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.” The following scene displays a group of young black people wearing hoodies, and watching on as a pair of pig-cops and Lady Justice seem to be partying around a bonfire. Next, the pig-cops lead a black man wearing one of Pickett’s hoodies and Lady Justice to an American flag tied into a noose; Justice’s blindfold is removed, and the man is lynched with the flag.
Then everyone wearing black hoodies from the start of the ad is seen on the ground and holding roses to imply that they’ve been killed, (I think), and the remainder of the video depicts the pig-cops running for their lives from an angry mob wearing Pickett’s merchandise. It ends with a creepy image of five or so people holding machetes, sledgehammers, and the bloodied severed heads of the pig-cops.
The ad is obviously vile and tasteless all around, but the thing that stands out the most for me is the strange juxtaposition of playing a snippet of Donald Trump’s comments following the “Unite the Right” incident in Charlottesville, where the president noted that “you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.” Wouldn’t featuring a group of vengeful murderers slaughtering police officers in the video help to reinforce Trump’s point that there are terrible and violent people on “both sides”?
In any case, the offensive video was posted to the university’s file-sharing service for a short time before the campus removed the link and disabled the video. John Lucas, a representative from the University of Wisconsin, spoke out about the violent video:
UW-Madison strives to provide a welcoming and inclusive campus environment, while allowing everyone to share ideas and political views in exercise of their free speech rights. However, the university strongly condemns the glorification of violence such as that contained in the promotion of a student-produced clothing line. We support our police partners, reject violence and violent imagery as tactics to achieve political objectives.
All citizens have the rights to express political beliefs that others may find objectionable, or even counter to the values of the institution. The individual in this situation is engaging in a private business activity, unrelated to his status as a UW-Madison student. The clothing in question is not produced, nor endorsed by UW-Madison.
Republican state Senator Steve Nass recently released a statement regarding Pickett’s gory video ad and the fact that it was uploaded to the university’s website:
This vile and racist anti-police video is clearly a direct threat to the brave men and women that serve behind the badge. UW-Madison must immediately hold these students accountable and that should include an investigation by the local police and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Eneale Pickett briefly responded to the senator’s commentary:
My only comment is, I have every right to do this. This is free speech. This is the same senator that supports free speech. But he only supports free speech when it comes to white supremacy.
— Eneale Pickett (@Eneale_Pickett) October 16, 2016
Pickett was already known for distributing hoodies and shirts with the slogan “All white people are racist” last year, and some of his newest designs as seen in his Insert Apparel line include:
“Destroy The City that Caused You To Bury Me”
“F*ck The Police They The Biggest Gang In AmeriKKKa”
“I Would Ask For Justice ‘But She’s Helping The Cops Burn My Body”
“Trump Ain’t My President Just Like OBAMA Wasn’t Yours”
— Eneale Pickett (@Eneale_Pickett) October 2, 2017
In addition to violating the terms of the University of Wisconsin’s website, YouTube should have taken down the video by now as well. After all, YouTube’s own community guidelines regarding violent, graphic, and hateful content clearly state:
It’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or disrespectful. If posting graphic content in a news or documentary context, please be mindful to provide enough information to help people understand what’s going on in the video. Don’t encourage others to commit specific acts of violence.
It sure sounds like the video clearly violates YouTube’s community guidelines, doesn’t it?
The video is also available on Twitter. While there will always be vile people full of hatred who advocate violence to further their goals, it doesn’t mean that YouTube and Twitter have to provide a platform for each sick individual who wants to use it to spread their repugnant and violent agendas.