Multiple police organizations have condemned Nike for featuring former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign. The National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organizations have both criticized the move, implying it was an insult to law enforcement officers.
Press Release on Nike
“Since 2016, 381 cops have been killed in the line of duty. They believed in something and sacrificed everything as did the families they left behind. All of the men and women in law enforcement believe in something and are prepared to sacrifice everything” pic.twitter.com/j4OkjUxR4S
— National FOP (@GLFOP) September 5, 2018
The National Association of Police Organizations took it one step further, calling for a boycott of the brand while deeming Kaepernick a “shallow dilettante seeking to gain notoriety by disrespecting the flag for which so many Americans have fought and died,” in a letter written to Nike President and CEO, Mark Parker, which can be read in full here.
The National Black Police Association has now come to the athlete’s defense, saying he has a 1st amendment right to peacefully protest on the football field. They also reject the idea that Kaepernick is anti-police.
“Your inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in your ads seems appropriate to us. We live in a country where the 1St Amendment is a right of the people. Mr. Kaepernick chose to exercise his right where his passion was on the football field,” NBPA Chairperson Sonia Y.W. Pruitt wrote in a letter to Parker. “NAPO believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s choice to openly protest issues surrounding police brutality, racism and social injustices in this country makes him anti-police. On the contrary, the NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for-the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety, and their rights as American citizens.”
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 5, 2018
Read the entirety of the NBPA’s letter below:
It is with great dismay that we were made aware of a letter that you received from the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) regarding your use of Colin Kaepernick in your new “Just Do It” advertising campaign. The National Black Police Association (NBPA) is not in agreement with NAPO on this matter, and we strongly condemn their call for police officers and their families to boycott Nike and its products.
Your inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in your ads seems appropriate to us. We live in a country where the 1St Amendment is a right of the people. Mr. Kaepernick chose to exercise his right where his passion was on the football field. NAPO believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s choice to openly protest issues surrounding police brutality, racism and social injustices in this country makes him anti-police. On the contrary, the NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for-the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety, and their rights as American citizens. NAPO has shown an adeptness at maintaining the police status quo and the tone in their letter further validates Mr. Kaepernick’s concerns, as it undermines the trust that is needed by law enforcement in order for the profession to maintain its legitimacy. That NAPO has chosen this matter to take a stance, only perpetuates the narrative that police are racist, with no regard, acknowledgement, respect, or understanding of the issues and concerns of the African- American community.
Your quote “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” is also appropriate as it relates to Mr. Kaepernick. For NAPO to presuppose that Mr. Kaepernick has not made sacrifices because he did not die on a battlefield, shows you just how out of touch NAPO is with the African-American community. We would like for them to stop their false narrative that you are not worthy of respect unless you were in the military or worked in law enforcement. The beauty of this country are the countless sacrifices that all people make in their everyday lives. The African?American community makes a sacrifice each time a life is unjustly lost at the hands of the very people who should protect them. A sacrifice is made each time the criminal justice system treats people of color as less than. A sacrifice is made each time a letter is sent asking officers to boycott a corporation, without asking those very African-American officers who are most affected, what their opinion is.
If they had asked the NBPA, we would have told them that they are out of line, and that the NBPA supports any person or group who exercises their right to peacefully protest against any form of social injustice, including police brutality and racism.
The NBPA proudly supports Nike and your use of Mr. Kaepernick in your new “Just Do It” advertising campaign. Truth and upholding the Constitutional rights of citizens, are cornerstones of leadership in policing. Our mission includes striving constantly to bridge the gap between law enforcement and our communities we are committed to ensuring equity for the community, as we work to enhance trust, legitimacy, transparency, and accountability in policing.
We will likely be buying and wearing lots of Nike products in the near future.
Sonia Y.W. Pruitt
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.