Kenner, LA – The mayor of one Louisiana city has announced that the city recreation department, and any booster clubs that operate at its facilities, would no longer be purchasing or accepting delivery of any Nike products.
"Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any city of Kenner recreation facility," read the Sept. 5 edict issued to Recreation Director Chad Pitfield by Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn.
Effective immediately, all purchases of clothing, shoes, athletic equipment or any other athletic equipment by booster clubs operating at city recreation facilities must be approved by Pitfield or his designee, the memo said, according to The Times-Picayune.
The memo, which was issued on the Republican mayor’s letterhead and featured Zahn’s signature, did not mention the controversial Nike ad campaign praising former National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick for “sacrificing everything,” which likely was the impetus for the ban, The Times-Picayune reported.
Kaepernick kicked off the massive controversy surrounding the National Anthem by kneeling to protest police brutality and racial injustice at a San Francisco 49ers exhibition game in 2016, during his last season actively playing in the NFL.
After the season, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers and became a free agent. He hasn’t signed with another team and has sued the NFL owners for allegedly blackballing him from the football league.
The Kenner mayor’s opinion on kneeling is not a new one, nor has he hidden it from voters in the past. His support for the National Anthem has been outspoken and very public.
At the Kenner Freedom Fest on Sept. 2, just a few days before Kaepernick announced the new Nike ad on his social media, Zahn kicked off events on the stage by asking everyone in the audience to stand for the National Anthem.
In front of a crowd of cheering community members, the mayor said he was going “to ask the crowd to do something which we all are very proud of. With all the things going on throughout this country right now with people not standing, I’m gonna ask you all to stand for what’s about to happen.”
“She’s gonna come out and do our National Anthem because this is not the NFL football players, right? This is the city of Kenner. And in the city of Kenner, we all stand. We’re going to be proud of that,” Zahn said.
In the video of his remarks, the crowd replied with cheering and applause when Zahn condemned the NFL players’ actions.
Despite obvious support from part of the community, there was blowback from his decision from others.
"I was not made aware of this decision beforehand and it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for and what the City of Kenner should stand for. I am 100% AGAINST this decision. I will meet with the Mayor and other Council members in an effort to rescind this directive," City Councilman Gregory Carroll posted on his official Facebook page on Sunday.
The president of the Kenner booster club also strongly disagreed with the memo, and expressed his opinion to the media.
“If it have a Nike logo on it or anything affiliated with Nike, they’re going to not approve it because it has a Nike logo on it,” Owen Rey explained to WWL-TV. “My opinion on it is that it shouldn’t be that way.”
"If we have something that we feel that we want that's going to benefit our kids, it shouldn't matter what logo, what brand – as long as it helps the kids and what we're trying to accomplish at the park," Rey said.