Louisiana Mayor Caves on Attempted Ban of Nike Products

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Mayor E. "Ben" Zahn III rescinded his policy barring the city of Kenner's booster clubs from buying or accepting delivery of Nike products at the city's recreation facilities. 

The mayor of Kenner, Louisiana, doesn’t seem to like Colin Kaepernick much. He also doesn’t seem too happy that the sports merchandise juggernaut Nike made Kaepernick the face of its new “Dream Crazy” campaign. But instead of simply expressing his personal opinion, he’s trying to use the power of his public office to prevent others from expressing their support for Colin Kaepernick. 

And that’s unconstitutional. 

On September 5, Kenner Mayor E. “Ben” Zahn III issued a memorandum prohibiting private booster clubs operating at Kenner recreation facilities from buying or accepting delivery of any product with the company’s famous swoosh symbol. “Under no circumstances,” the memo reads, “will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.” Under the new policy, the city’s director of parks and recreation must approve any athletic product or apparel before a booster club can purchase them. 

On Wednesday, the ACLU and the ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to Mayor Zahn informing him that his actions violate the First Amendment and advising him to rescind his policy immediately. We have taken this action because Zahn’s policy violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on content and viewpoint discrimination. It prevents booster clubs from purchasing Nike’s products based solely on the mayor’s opposition to Nike’s political expression.

How do we know this? Because Zahn said so himself.

After his policy caused a furor both locally and nationally, the mayor issued a follow-up statement on September 11. According to Zahn, he implemented his Nike ban because the company, “in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.” The mayor couldn’t be any clearer. His policy is directed at the political message communicated by Nike and those who wear Nike apparel.

And no one should lose sight of what that message is. Kaepernick lost his job as a quarterback in the NFL because he has the temerity to kneel during the national anthem. Kaepernick has explained that he took a knee to protest rampant police brutality and discrimination against people of color across the United States. By doing so, he sparked the “Take-a-Knee” movement, which continues today

Zahn argues that his policy is an attempt “only to protect taxpayer dollars from being used in a political campaign.” This argument falls flat. While Kenner booster clubs receive city funds, they also raise their money from private sources, and the city has no legitimate interest in dictating which companies, causes, or “political agendas” booster clubs may support with their own money.

There is only one plausible conclusion for the mayor’s actions: He is trying to stop booster clubs from symbolically expressing their support for political views the mayor detests. That’s a textbook First Amendment violation.

Mayor Zahn, rescind your unconstitutional policy. Just do it.

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Anonymous

The racist swears he’s not the actual villain

Anonymous

Collin K. Is a disgrace ... If he wants to protest police brutality, do it another way, don't kneel to our country's flag. Great work Mayor. Stand your ground. More folks should follow the example. I won't buy another Nike product. The company I work at has bought a ton of Nike dry-fit polo style shirts branded with our company logo. No more.

Anonymous

What way would you suggest. Something tells me there are zero ways you belive protesting is "appropriate " for POC.

Anonymous

Do you mean kneeling like when you pray? Because I've seen plenty of photos showing soldiers praying in front of the same flag. Is it disrespectful when a soldier serving his country kneel's?

Anonymous

did it ever occur to you that by limiting constitutional freedoms, you are the one who disrespects the soldiers who sacrificed their lives and limbs? They fought for all our freedoms...not just the ones you want to cherry pick.

Crystal

I am a United States Army veteran, kneeling is not disrespectful!! Would you say people who can't stand are being disrespectful? The Constitution covers the right to protest not standing for the national anthem is not written in the Constitution there is no law that says you have to stand for the national anthem! Colin asked veterans what would be respectful; they told him to kneel.

Catherine Delgado

He did not kneel to the flag.
He knelt to the National ANTHEM.
There is a difference.
And by the way, kneeling to either has NEVER been a show of disrespect.
Look it up.

michaelevan7

Why is a white guy kneeling for the anthem? Sure he's mixed but he is half white and raised by white parents. Why doesn't he put his money where his mouth is? When has division ever brought people together? Why did the media like about Nike sales? After all the first week of football season increases all brands sales since fans buy teams merchandise made by Nike and others. The sales are always high during this period, there was no major increase from Nike over other brands, they're just the most common.

AnonymouS

We you get done playing "identity" rationalism that supports your white nationalism, then you'll get to look back on how you've contributed to the division, and what happened as a result. But will you be embarrassed for your ignorance?

Anonymous

Colin give up 12milloon contract go free agent so he didn't lose his job he Gave it up no body wanted him

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