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UPDATE: On Wednesday, Mayor E. "Ben" Zahn III rescinded his policy barring the city of Kenner's booster clubs from buying or accepting delivery of Nike products at the city's recreation facilities.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

Nike sales are up over 30 percent... the people have spoken.

Blatantone

Any Mayor who thinks they have the power to ban anything deemed anti-agenda needs to be replaced at the next election.
The next thing you know your school lunches will consist of boloney sandwiches made with Joe Arpaio's secret recipe.

Dr. L. Christian

This is why Black/Brown people in America will never be truly free and we will continue to kneel. America has never loved us, but used us to build this country, raped us, beat us, lynched us, denied us services. Why don't we leave? Because this is now our country too and we don't want to leave and we have the right to free speech. We will never shut our mouths again. Hate for skin colors different than yours, for no apparent reason except that the skin color is different, makes no sense at all. Police kill unarmed BlackBrown people everyday for no reason other than they are afraid of Black/Brown people. My sons have been stopped by POLICE because they have locks (dread hairdo) and searched and yelled at and threatened. They are not killers, have never been arrested, they have college degrees much like the young man who was shot in his apartment in Dallas. My nephew was stopped because of the car he drove and when my sister called to ask why, the POLICE told her that a 16 year old Black young man should not be driving a BMW and they will continue to stop and ticket it as long as he has that car. We (Black and Brown people) have so many stories about the same thing, the POLICE. There are good POLICE and their are bad racist POLICE who use their power to hurt Black/Brown people. I never feel protected and I fear POLICE and that Dr. Leary is very sad for any 60 year old college Professor to say. It is people like you, who do not take the time to find out the facts because you are safe from the POLICE (White people), that keeps this hatred going. Have a conversation with one of your Black/Brown colleagues or pick anyone off the street for that matter and ask them to tell you their story....you need to hear the truth about America from the mouths of those who are afraid in their own country......This country....America
Dr. Christian

Anonymous

Mayor Zahn is just another typical Republican Nazi.

BattlefieldGoddess

Just another middle-aged white man who's decided the only legitimate viewpoint is his own.

HoldThemAccountable

Dr. Timothy Leary - what is your medical speciality and address if a doctor, Mr. WhiteSupremacist? WE WANT TO BOYCOTT YOUR PRACTICE.

Anonymous

I'm so fucking tired of these white people worrying about a football player kneeling at a f****** football game. white lady cop shoots and kill innocent black man in his own house gets a pay raise, Black Man takes a knee at a football game and gets barred from employment for life. Donna Osama Bin Laden is in collusion with the Russian nobody talks about that. Fuck all Racist white people...

Anonymous

Impeach this dumbass president

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