The sheriff’s office in Union County, Arkansas, denied allegations on Thursday that it has forced inmates to wear a Nike shirt in their mug shots as an effort to bash Nike and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Intercept columnist Shaun King tweeted out a photo on Wednesday night that showed 12 mug shots of inmates wearing a black Nike shirt. King alleged this was done on purpose to “mock” both the former quarterback and Nike — which recently made Kaepernick the face of its new advertising campaign.
The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots.
Source says it is to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/9z9Nw9hxuF
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 11, 2018
Since King’s tweet, the Union County sheriff’s office has removed inmate photos from its online jail roster, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Union County sheriff Ricky Roberts denied that allegation on Thursday, and said that the Nike shirts have been in use for “several months.” However according to the Democrat Gazette, the Nike shirts began to show up in mug shots around Sept. 15.
The Nike shirts, Roberts said, were simply among clothing provided for individuals who lacked “proper attire.”
“We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media,” Roberts said in a statement. “Also, these shirts were not purchased by the Sheriff’s Office to be used for this purpose, but were simply on hand and available … This shirt is not only in use now, but has also been for several months prior.
“We have taken steps to rectify this issue and insure that this will never happen again. I understand the concern of those who may have found this offensive, and for that I apologize.”
Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season, when he first started taking a knee during the national anthem. The 30-year-old reflected on the beginning of his protest and his recent Nike deal while accepting the W.E.B. Dubois Medal from Harvard for his work in social justice on Thursday.
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