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Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn Initiates Department-Wide Ban on Nike Products

A Louisiana mayor has sparked backlash after issuing a memorandum ordering the city’s recreation department and booster clubs to not wear or purchase any products from Nike, effective immediately.

In the Sept. 5 memo, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn says that moving forward, all purchases of clothing, shoes or any athletics equipment by the city’s playground booster clubs must first be approved by Recreation Director Chad Pitfield, the Times-Picayune reported. A copy of the memo was posted to social media, where it was shared thousands of times before drawing the rebuke of several local leaders.

“If we have something that we feel that we want that is going to benefit our kids, it shouldn’t matter what logo, what brand,” Kenner booster club president Owen Rey told WWL-TV. “As long as it helps the kids and what we’re trying to accomplish at the park.”

Nike has faced scrutiny since unveiling its latest “Just Do It” ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sparked outrage in 2016 after taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in America. The company’s move sent critics into a tizzy, some going as far as lighting their Nike products on fire for the entire world to see.

By Wednesday, it seemed those protests had reached the city of Kenner in suburban New Orleans.

Mayor Ben Zhan

Image courtesy of WWL-TV / Owen Rey.

“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’s signed memo stated. “Under no circumstances will any Nike product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.”

The mayor’s directive also drew the ire of Kenner City Councilman Gregory Caroll, who said he had no idea the memo was being sent out.

“Last night a disturbing memorandum was circulated that the City of Kenner Mayor E. Ben Zahn wrote to the Kenner Recreation Director, directing him, regarding Booster Club Purchases, banning Nike products, usage or delivery of all Kenner Recreational Facilities,” Carroll wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. “I wasn’t made aware of this decision beforehand and it is in direct contradiction of what I stand for and what the City of Kenner should stand for.

“I am 100% AGAINST this decision,” Carroll added, noting that he planned to meet with Zahn and other council members to have the directive overturned. “I will keep the citizens of Kenner, and the Greater New Orleans area informed as we move forward.”

Zahn, who’s been an outspoken critic of the NFL player protests, has yet to comment on the memo.

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