Mayor lifts Nike ban in Louisiana town following outcry to bring 'this city back together'

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The swoosh is once again welcome in Kenner, Louisiana. (Getty)
The swoosh is once again welcome in Kenner, Louisiana. (Getty)

Last week, Kenner, Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn banned the use of city money to purchase Nike products in response to the company’s alliance with Colin Kaepernick.

“Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any city of Kenner recreation facility,” a leaked memo from the mayor’s desk read. 

No more Nike ban in Kenner

On Wednesday, Zahn backed off his ban.

With the backdrop of a U.S. Air Force fighter jet at a park in the New Orleans suburb, Zahn announced that the swoosh was once again welcome in Kenner. 

Citing advice from his city attorney, Zahn rescinded the Nike ban that “placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage” in hopes of “bringing this city back together,” The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports

Nike’s alliance with Kaepernick drew controversy because of his leadership role as NFL players protest social justice issues during the national anthem. The advertising campaign prompted some to light their own Nike gear on fire and Zahn to implement the Kenner ban.

Ben Zahn announced the lifting of the Nike ban during a news conference. (AP)
Ben Zahn announced the lifting of the Nike ban during a news conference. (AP)

Mayor’s Nike ban drew widespread ridicule

Zahn’s announcement came on the heels of local and national ridicule for the ban that drew legal and political criticism. Residents protested the ban, accusing the mayor of “dividing us.

The ACLU challenged the ban as a First Amendment violation while city councilman Mike Sigur argued that it broke a state law that forbids outlawing a specific brand.

“We’re pleased the mayor reconsidered his divisive stance and rescinded this unconstitutional policy,” Louisiana ACLU official Alanah Odoms Hebert told The Times Picayune. “The reversal of this ban is good news for the people of Kenner and all Louisianians who have a constitutional right to express their political views free from government censorship or discrimination.” 

Councilman supports social justice

Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears Jr. also applauded the decision.

“I was completely against the policy,” Spears said. “I support inclusion and social justice.”

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