Backlash after Louisiana mayor 'bans Nike purchases' amid Kaepernick row
A memo circulating on social media, and appearing to bear Mayor E. Ben Zahn III's signature, prohibits the purchase of Nike products by the city’s recreation department.
"Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased or used...at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility," reads the memo, which is addressed to Parks and Recreation Department Director Chad Pitfield.
The move comes after Nike revealed its choice of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign.
Nike’s choice to use Kaepernick – who began the ‘take a knee’ protests that swept the NFL – prompted a backlash, with some customers vowing to boycott the brand and others burning its merchandise.
Zahn’s decision to cease deliveries of goods from the company has similarly ignited a row, with the Louisiana Democrats branding it “an undemocratic abuse of power,” while political analyst Donna Brazile slammed it as “troubling.”
Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn failed to inform members of his own city council before releasing the memorandum. Not only is this discriminatory, it’s an undemocratic abuse of power. Your personal beliefs shouldn’t dictate how thousands of your constituents live their lives. pic.twitter.com/bjdeFvEIZg— Louisiana Democrats (@LaDemos) September 10, 2018
I was born in New Orleans and raised in Kenner. My family resides throughout the region and I have a home there. This is troubling and I will speak up.— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) September 9, 2018
Others launched a ‘Kenner Just Do It campaign,’ while some vowed to prevent the order from ever being enforced.
Gah - on this Kenner/Nike thing. This a Ben Zahn alone attempt. NOT a JP either. Kenner Council Reps are horrified and taking action Monday. As a Jefferson Chamber Board Member, I will be checking on our status of putting out any formal notice of disapproval tomorrow.— Julie Couret (@JulieTCouret) September 9, 2018
If You are in or live by Kenner, La Please go support and attend this event today. Apparently the Mayor of Kenner is banning people from wearing Nike at any of his recreational facilities. So Go wear your Nike Gear 💯💪 #ColinKaepernick#JustDoItpic.twitter.com/YLkTQAenRV— TeddyLuffy (@TeddyLuffy1) September 10, 2018
Zahn has previously criticized the NFL protests, with a clip from an event last week showing him state: "This is the city of Kenner. In the city of Kenner, we all stand. We're going to be proud of that."
Video of Mayor #BenZahn on Sunday, September 2, 2018: “This is not the NFL football players right? This the city of Kenner and in the city of #Kenner (Louisiana) we all stand” for the #NationalAnthem. Still no word on #Nike ban backlash. Memo must be real as this request to stand pic.twitter.com/xxn0khhIIQ— Paula Neal Mooney (@PAULANEALMOONEY) September 9, 2018
The row over the anthem protests continues to rumble on, with several NFL players kneeling over the weekend.
Miami Dolphins pair Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both protested during the US national anthem on Sunday, with Kaepernick tweeting his thanks.
My Brothers @kstills and @ithinkisee12 continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed! They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. Their courage will move the world forward!— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 9, 2018
“Love is at the root of our resistance!”✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/2kSsX4s7EU
Critics of the protests – and Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick in its campaign – include US President Donald Trump, who again weighed in on the debate over the weekend.
Wow, NFL first game ratings are way down over an already really bad last year comparison. Viewership declined 13%, the lowest in over a decade. If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
Mayor Zahn told local media that he would clarify the decision later on Monday.