Kenner Recreation Department prohibited from using Nike apparel or equipment

Kenner Nike ban

KENNER, LA (WVUE) - There is backlash over a memo from the Kenner mayor ordering the city’s recreation department not buy any Nike products.

The memo came down the same day as the company’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick.

Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign uses Kaepernick and the cut line “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick is well known for kneeling during the national anthem when he played for the 49ers. People across the country have decried the campaign. Some people even burning Nike shoes or promising to boycott.

Now Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn doesn’t want any recreational purchase made by the city to include Nike products.

Councilman Greg Carroll said while the directive seems like it could violate open bid laws, he is calling it unnecessary since Kenner likely would never buy Nike products anyway.

“The first thing is disbelief,” said Carroll.

Carroll says the memo caught him off guard.

“I never knew anything about this or where it came from. There was never any discussion relating to this,” Carroll said.

The brief note from Zahn to the recreation department director dictates "under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased” for use at a Kenner recreation facility.

While the mayor is not telling parents what clothes they can buy for their kids, he is issuing a directive when it comes to how the city can spend its money.

“We as the city of Kenner donate $4,000 per booster club and we have 11,” Carroll said.

The memo is dated the same day as the release of the Nike ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, addressing his protest of police brutality during the national anthem at football games.

“Perception is reality. The ad came out last week. This came out. Is it a coincidence? I don’t know,” Carroll explained.

Yet, the councilman says, either way, it doesn’t matter.

“If we say we’re not going to consider you, we are breaking the law by doing that,” he said.

Carroll says bid laws require the city choose companies based on safety and cost efficiency. He says Kenner is not allowed to discriminate against any company for any reason. What’s more, Council Member Carroll says the city rarely, if ever, chooses brand names due to cost.

Aside from the legality of the memo, Carroll says it sends the wrong message to the rest of the state, country, even the world.

“This is not who we are,” said Carroll. “We have to rescind this and going forward to it make the same mistake again because it affects the future for our children and it affects our sales tax which we, as the City of Kenner, live and die by for future businesses to come in.”

While folks we spoke to had their own opinions about Kaepernick, they say the mayor shouldn’t get involved.

“I just think it’s not the mayor’s place. That’s everybody’s personal decision what they support,” said mother Debbie Alexander.

Others say they're on the mayor's side. One Facebook user says, in part, “While our mayor's method may have been a little rough, I believe he made the right decision.” The mayor's office is not commenting.

Carroll says he and the mayor have, thus far, worked closely and successfully.

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