Controversial “All Lives Matter” T-Shirt For Sale At MN State Fair

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Search the hashtag #AllLivesMatter on social media and you’ll find some who equate it with white privilege and others who think it should be the broader message of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Todd Gramenz falls into the latter group. He’s opened a booth at the Minnesota State Fair and sells t-shirts emblazoned with “All Lives Matter” as well as “Black Lives Matter”. He rented the booth saying he represents Black Lives Matter, something an organizer of the St. Paul Black Lives Matter disputes.

“I feel that is what is needed to be talked about— all lives matter,” says Gramenz a 2012 University of Minnesota graduate with a degree in economics and finance. “It is something to say that black lives matter and a lot of people have pushback against all lives matter within our selves, which is Black Lives Matter.”

Gramenz says he knows some leaders of the movement say mixing the slogan “All Lives Matter” with the Black Lives Matter movement is “just like mixing cancer with Black Lives Matter,” but he offers the t-shirt because he thinks it is a positive message. “Negativity won’t help our youth.”

“There’s adversity. We’re here to teach people you can still continue to move through adversity and be successful.”

The Black Lives Matter movement sprung up in response to highly publicized cases of police shooting unarmed blacks. Since then protest and civil disobedience such as shutting down a freeway or blocking mass transit have been instrumental tactics in getting gaining media attention for the group and its message.

Gramenz doesn’t agree with those tactics, calling them the “darker side” of the movement. On Saturday he plans to be manning his state fair booth and not participating in a planned Black Lives Matter protest at the state fair because he believes it will not be peaceful. “I would love to. But if I’m 100% guaranteed that the protest was going to be peaceful, then I would be all for it.”

Related story: Competing Groups Claim To Be True “Black Lives Matter” At MN State Fair

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

8 thoughts on “Controversial “All Lives Matter” T-Shirt For Sale At MN State Fair

  1. “All lives matter” is an example of the Fallacy of Relative Privation, and expresses the privilege of those who are free most of the time to ignore the race-based over-representation of minorities, particularly blacks, in the largely privatized US prison system. While all lives do indeed matter, in America it is black lives which are being cut short more often by our police officers, and restricted more frequently by for-profit prison systems, than white lives. If you believe all lives matter, then you need to insist that black lives be treated with equal respect, because presently they are not. And that’s why #BlackLivesMatter

  2. Hellooo out there. Middle-aged white woman here who has been voting against the privatization of the criminal justice system and useless drug laws for 15 years. Good to welcome you onboard! This is NOT a new issue, how about I will say BLM and you say All Lives Matter, and we shake hands and move forward. Otherwise, in general, the less powerful, less financially stable, those that despair for their futures will get a chance to yell and rant…and that will keep folks busy, exhausted and in the same place. Let’s change the ‘compstat ‘computer system that looks to police for “results” by making arrests instead of protecting AND serving. Let’s pass UNIVERSAL PRE-K for all since the achievement gap is evident between the ages of 24 and 48 months. Regardless of color, creed, sex or political persuasion. Before the election, plan marches that proclaim, Black Votes Matter. We do not have a perfect system, but there are more beautiful levers here than well…most anywhere.

  3. I quit reading right at the part “in America it is black lives which”. All lives matter….period.

  4. Don’t do the crimes and you won’t do the time. Works for folks regardless of skin color or racial identity. Also, pretty sure that black-on-black crime is a much bigger problem than police-on-anyone crime. Black lives do matter, same as any other sort of lives. Stay in school, stay out of gangs, stay away from people who make trouble. These are basic plans for success regardless of your skin color.

  5. Actually that’s wrong, and it’s exactly the problem. The racism inherent in your comments is exactly the problem. All sorts of black lives have been ended by police and by citizens of people who were doing exactly what you said. And it’s in the statistics – the collected together evidence of thousands of deaths of both blacks and whites that indicates that a person can be the most law-abiding, respectful, successful non-racist-stereotype you can think of, but if his or her skin is dark then that person is more likely to be killed than if his or her skin is white.
    Don’t succumb to your authoritarian, racist instincts – because that’s what your comment exhibits, racism and authoritarianism. Examine decades of statistics and you will see that blacks are arrested, killed, and imprisoned far more than whites, and far out of proportion with any crime or lifestyle based influences you might postulate.
    We have a racist and for-profit police and prison system. If it’s not fixed it will tear this country apart.

  6. So you’re not only racist, you’re DELIBERATELY ignorant. You simply don’t want to know or acknowledge the irrefutable statistical truth that America’s police and prison systems are extremely racially discriminatory. You aren’t just PART of the problem, you ARE the problem.

  7. Quite the contrary….you ARE the problem. You’re the racist trying to hold one color crayon above the rest. I respect the entire box. If you want preferential treatment under the guise of equality, then you’ll have to find support elsewhere for your perpetual victimhood.

  8. Blacks are being incarcerated and murdered by police at a rate wildly disproportionate to that of whites. If all lives matter then you have to work to fix that. And that’s why #BlackLivesMatter