It seems like just about everyone has a hot take in the wake of Nike's new "Just Do It" campaign prominently featuring former San Fransisco 49er turned activist Colin Kaepernick. Ever since the multi-billion dollar company unveiled the campaign in early September, people on all sides of the political spectrum have used it as a tool to push their own agendas.
But one of the most bizarre examples of this comes from Kenner, Louisiana, where the mayor is trying to ban the recreation department and booster clubs from using any Nike products in the city of around 67,000 residents just outside of New Orleans.
In a leaked, internal memo dated Sept. 5 - the same day the campaign was announced - Mayor Ben Zahn informed the Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Pitfield that "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 full memo can be read below in a tweet shared by WWL-TV out of New Orleans.
While Kenner and the surrounding areas have avoided any major hurricane or tropical storm recently, Zahn and his office have had no such luck with the storm associated with the Sept. 9 leak of his internal memo. One would think that Zahn, who is serving his first full term as the city's mayor would try to alleviate the damage, but it looks like the Republican administrator is preparing to weather the storm.
In a statement released one day after news broke of the memo, Zahn hunkered down and firmly planted himself in the ground:
"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."
Throughout his five-paragraph statement, Zahn continually defends his memo and actions tied to it by stating that he is simply looking out for the residents of Kenner as well as their personal "political philosophies and agendas."
"So, when a company uses its advertising as its own political megaphone, government should be fair to all of its people and not allow taxpayers to be used to help that company push its own political agenda," Zahn writes. "My decision is only to protect taxpayer dollars from being used in a political campaign."
But many don't feel that Zahn is looking out for the best interest of his residents, with many prominent figures from the local, state, and even national level voicing their displeasure with the mayor's stance on the Nike campaign.
Kenner City Council member Gregor Carroll released the following statement the morning after the memo was first released to the public:
Louisiana State Senator Troy Carter had this to say shortly after he was notified of the mayor's decision:
Even Donna Brazille, the two-time interim chairperson for the National Democratic Committee and native of Kenner, took to Twitter to voice her disappointment with her "beloved" city.
Brazile wasn't the only one disappointed by the leadership of her hometown, as hundreds of residents from Kenner as well as nearby New Orleans congregated on Sept. 10 to protest the Nike ban. The event featured local community leaders, politicians, and even members of the New Orleans Saints roster.
No one from the City Council or mayor's office were attendance at the Monday night rally.
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