After banning his city’s parks and recreation department from purchasing Nike products in response to the shoe company’s support of Colin Kaepernick less than two weeks ago, Kenner, Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn has backed down amid protests from residents, business leaders, the ACLU, and members of the New Orleans Saints.
When Zahn, a Republican in his first term as mayor, first announced the ban on Sept. 5, it targeted spending of public money or booster club revenue on Nike apparel for the city’s nine youth playgrounds. After news of the ban began spreading on social media, he claimed that his intent was to prevent public money from being spent on what he called a “political message.”
But now, after a week of taking hits from all sides, his own grandstanding political message fizzled under mountain of anger from residents, legal analysts, other civic leaders, and even some New Orleans Saints players
Zahn officially ended the policy on Wednesday, while standing in front of an Air Force fighter jet, claiming that it “placed Kenner in a false and unflattering light on the national stage.”
“I was completely against the policy. I support inclusion and social justice,” Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears Jr. told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I have been in communication with Mayor Zahn to voice my disapproval with this policy and am grateful the policy has been rescinded.”
On Tuesday, four Saints players Terron Armstead, Chris Banjo, Cameron Jordan and Craig Robertson attended a “Unity in Community” rally that was held in response to the ban.
City Councilman Mike Sigur said Louisiana state law forbids blacklisting a specific brand. The ACLU applauded his about face in a statement.
“We’re pleased the mayor reconsidered his divisive stance and rescinded this unconstitutional policy,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, the executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “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.”