The Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) is the latest to weigh in amid controversy surrounding the Swoosh’s recall of its Fourth of July sneaker design. In a petition dated July 11, the organization condemned Kaepernick, asking Nike to drop the quarterback.
“Mr. Kaepernick does not represent us. Moreover, he has tainted our view of your brand,” reads the petition, signed by CAAP president Rev. Bill Owens and directed toward Nike CEO Mark Parker. “We ask that you sever your relationship with Mr. Kaepernick, who has become synonymous with radical anti-American sentiment.”
The sportswear giant was the subject of heated nationwide debate following its 2018 signing of Kaepernick, who began the kneeling movement during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Recent conversation has focused on the brand’s recall of Fourth of July sneakers, featuring the Betsy Ross flag — a design viewed as offensive to some, Kaepernick included, in light of its connection to an era of slavery.
The recall sparked criticism from many, who said the decision was offensive to veterans. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said he would withdraw a $1 million tax break incentive for Nike’s proposed plant in the state.
CAAP agreed that recall was hurtful to veterans, asking the Beaverton, Ore.-based brand to produce a select run of its Betsy Ross kicks to aid veteran groups and organizations helping military families.
“We represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And we agree that Mr. Kaepernick’s views on America and the flag are fringe opinions, not shared by any of us . . . especially the African Americans who marched against segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” the petition reads. “In fact, we find Mr. Kaepernick’s views to be ill-informed and offensive, especially to veterans and others who have served this country.“
“For a long time, sport has been something that brings Americans together. Nike has been one of the companies we associate with ‘Team USA.’ Please don’t tarnish that legacy by continuing to cater to anti-American politics,” reads the final line of the petition.
FN has reached out to Nike for comment.
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