The mayor of a Louisiana town is banning his recreation department from buying or accepting the delivery of any Nike products, according to a leaked memo that spread on social media this weekend.
— WWL-TV (@WWLTV) September 9, 2018
Dated Sept. 5th, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn instructed one of his staff members that no Nike product or “any product with the Nike logo” should be bought or seen in any recreation facility.
“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,” Zahn wrote to the director, Chad Pitfield. “Under no circumstances will any Nike product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.”
Zahn’s memo started spreading online Saturday night and has since gone viral.
On Monday, the mayor issued a statement standing by his order and describing the move as his way of protecting his residents’ tax dollars from “being used in a political campaign.”
Here it is in full:
Private, for-profit companies have every right to advertise how they wish, even if it means using advertising to promote corporate political beliefs. Individuals also have every right to support or oppose any company or brand for any reason. Those freedoms should never be lost.
I applaud Nike’s message of inclusion and encouragement for everyone to be their best and dream big. But I also recognize that Nike, in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.
In Kenner, like every city, our citizens and our taxpayers cover a wide spectrum of political philosophies and agendas. We must respect all of those agendas and philosophies. So, when a company uses its advertising as its own political megaphone, government should be fair to all of its people and not allow taxpayer dollars to be used to help that company push its own political agenda.
My decision is only to protect taxpayer dollars from being used in a political campaign. Some have asked if people will be allowed to wear Nike apparel on city playgrounds. The answer to that is … of course.
My internal memo draws the line on letting companies profit from taxpayers by espousing political beliefs. My decision disallowing Nike from profiting from our taxpayers while they are using their powerful voice as a political tool is my message. This government will not let taxpayer dollars be used to promote a company’s or individual’s political position, platform or principle. That’s my position as a matter of fairness to all.
LATEST: #Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn had little to say Monday morning amid the aftermath of his memo on #Nike products. He said more to come this afternoon. #nola #louisiana @NBCNews https://t.co/5qOT0aRWYS pic.twitter.com/ANKtqfSbTd
— wdsu (@wdsu) September 10, 2018
Some were not agreeing with the Mayor:
The backlash against Nike has continued to be felt across other political systems, companies, and universities. It’s a waste of people’s time and energy. Nike isn’t going anywhere, and will long outlast Colin Kaepernick’s relevancy.