KENNER, La. – The boycott of Nike products appeared to reach Kenner this week as Mayor Ben Zahn ordered that playground booster clubs not wear or buy any Nike products, which are now pitched by controversial former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The memo, first posted on Facebook, caused a social media firestorm and was shared thousands of times before it drew the rebuke of at least one Kenner councilman.
Zahn declined to comment Sunday, according to Kenner spokesman Bob Ross. Chad Pitfield, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation Department, referred questions to Ross.
While Zahn refused to comment Sunday on the memo, a video of him last week at Kenner's Freedom Fest showed him decry those who choose to not stand for the national anthem.
"I'm going to ask y'all to stand for what's about to happen. ... Because this is not the NFL football players, right?" he said before the anthem was sung, eliciting cheers from the crowd. "This is the city of Kenner. In the city of Kenner we all stand. We're going to be proud of that"
National Anthem at Freedom Fest 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Jenna Hunts...Posted by Duane Hunts on Sunday, September 2, 2018
Owen Rey, the booster club president for Susan Park Playground, provided a copy of Zahn's memo, dated Sept. 5, to WWL-TV.
“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. 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 memo reads.
Booster club president upset by memo
After the memo had been shared on social media, Councilman Gregory Carroll took to Facebook, saying he had no knowledge that 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. “I was not 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. I will meet with the Mayor and other Council members in an effort to rescind this directive. I will keep the citizens of Kenner, and the Greater New Orleans area informed as we move forward.”
Rey says if the boosters want something that's going to benefit the kids of the playground, logos shouldn't matter.
"It shouldn't matter what brand, as long as it helps the kids and what we're trying to accomplish at the park,"
Kaepernick, a free agent, was the first player to kneel during the national anthem before an NFL game as a peaceful protest against social injustice and police brutality. He hasn't been with an NFL team since 2016.
Stay with Eyewitness News on WWL-TV and WWLTV.com for more on this developing story.