An American mayor has banned the city’s parks and recreation department from purchasing Nike products, days after the athletic apparel maker released a controversial ad supporting former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The mayor from a New Orleans suburb of Kenner with a population of 67,000 residents, Ben Zahn, sent a memo on September 5 to the parks and recreation director says Nike products cannot be purchased for use at the city’s recreation facilities.
Zahn’s memo said: “Under no circumstances” can any Nike apparel or equipment be “purchased for use or delivery” at any recreation facilities in the city. Adding: “Effective immediately all purchases made by any booster club operating at any Kenner Recreation Facility for wearing apparel, shoes, athletic equipment and/or any athletic product must be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation, or his designee.” The director has the authority to approve all athletic purchases by booster clubs using their facilities.
Last week Nike launched a new ad campaign that celebrates the brand’s 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Nike featured several athletes with their famous “Just do it.” slogan. One of the athletes was Colin Kaepernick, former National Football League (NFL) quarterback, who started the national anthem protests that many Americans feel is disrespectful to the nation and military veterans.. Kaepernick attracted controversy when in 2016, he knelt during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to NFL games in protest to what he believed to be racial injustices against black Americans.
The policy sparked a backlash over the weekend with many calling for it to be rescinded. One organization which protested the Mayor’s memo, Urban League of Louisiana, in saying that they were “deeply disappointed” questioned the legality of the memo. The League said this was an opportunity to reflect upon the “real reason for associated protests regarding kneeling and police brutality”.
A few hundred people, including Cam Jordan, Terron Armstead and Craig Robertson of the New Orleans Saints’ football team, showed up on Monday evening to protest the Zahn’s decision. One prominent demonstrator said of the memo, “It’s a shame we’re here for this. These policies are illegal.”