An Arkansas sheriff was accused of forcing inmates to wear Nike shirts for their mugshots in an attempt to mock both the inmates and Nike for the company’s support of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who began kneeling to protest police abuse against black people.
But Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts said the practice had nothing to do with the Kaepernick controversy, claiming that inmates are allowed to choose a shirt from a box to not appear in a jail uniform.
He also said that the shirts were not purchased by tax dollars but “were simply on hand and available,” according to the Arkansas Times.
However, Shaun King, a journalist and activist who focuses on police abuse on minorities who first brought the photos to light, said he learned from a source that the shirts were meant to mock the inmates.
But even if that were the case, the joke would be on the sheriff because all it is doing is further promoting the brand that is recognized throughout the world.
Nevertheless, the sheriff has since removed the mugshots of the inmates wearing Nike shirts from the sheriff’s website.
King created a collage of mugshots which shows 18 different inmates wearing Nike shirts that say Nike Athletics, Nike AIR and the Nike logo.
> “The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots. Source says it is to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick.”
The sheriff department had a roster of inmates on their website where inmates were wearing Nike gear.
“It’s our job to protect people” like Colin Kaepernick and their right to protest,” the sheriff told local media. “There was no malice.”
Carlos Miller contributed to this report.