A Gap store in Santa Cruz is using ropes resembling black nooses to hang its "1969" jeans from the ceiling in a window display. And more than a few people have a problem with that.
1969 is the year after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. More than a few people think that Gap is trying to somehow send an "edgy" message about its products with a "subtle" – or not so subtle, in some peoples' minds – reference to lynching, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
"The rope itself does look like lynching and that's not OK," local resident Kelly Zhu told the newspaper.
Others were so outraged as to demand the store take down the display. One employee is reported to have said that the advertising is a "corporate" decision and nothing can be done on the local level.
The ropes do not have a "hangman's knot," some local African-Americans noted. So that's one plus.
Other advertising slogans accompanying Gap's new line of dark jeans include "Black is a color" and "Don't be afraid of the dark," the newspaper noted.
"The meaning of the noose is clear," said UC Santa Cruz professor Anthony Pratkanis.
Gap did not comment to the newspaper.
One Santa Cruz resident, former Black Panther Simba Kenyatta who is today an activist and advocate for equality in race relations, said that he has "to pick my battles and this isn't one of them," the newspaper reported. "But I could see how someone would be offended."