Kenner mayor tries, fails to ban Nike from city

ULM Hawkeye

The mayor of Kenner, Louisiana has now gone back on the ban on his recreation department and booster clubs from buying or accepting the any Nike products after the order sparked protests and outrage.

In a short memo dated Sept. 5, 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.

In a letter to the Director of Parks and Recreation Chad Pitfield, he told the director “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,” He emphasized, “under no circumstances will any Nike product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.”

However, a week later, he told reporters that he had changed his mind. His announcement came the same day that the American Civil Liberties Union sent the mayor a letter warning him the directive was unconstitutional.

Zahn’s memo started spreading online and soon went viral.

Zahn was worried that the memo divided his city, and placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage.

He had originally sent the order on the same day Nike released its full-length ad featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

since 2016, no NFL team has picked up Kaepernick and the league has been inconsistent in its decisions to either support or penalize its players who choose not to stand during the anthem.

After the retraction of the ban, the mayor then issued a statement standing by his order and described the move as his way of protecting his residents’ tax dollars from “being used in a political campaign.”

The backlash against Nike has spanned across other political systems, companies, and universities. Several universities across the South have announced that they have cut ties with the athletic powerhouse in response to its “Just Do It” campaign.

Despite days of controversy and backlash, Zahn has repeated that the ban  was intended to protect taxpayer dollars and stand up for men and women in service.

In its letter, the ACLU said Zahn’s “policy violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections and that the mayor’s justification for it fails to pass any constitutional test.”