Sheriff: Nike Shirts in Mug Shots Not Done in Protest


EL DORADO, Ark. — The Union County Sheriff says accusations he put inmates in Nike shirts for mug shots to protest Nike and Colin Kaepernick simply aren’t true.

Sheriff Ricky Roberts says the shirts were given to people who came into their jail without “proper attire during the booking process.”  Roberts says the shirts weren’t purchased by his department — but rather, already on-hand.

“We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media,” Roberts said in a statement.  “This shirt is not only in use now, but has also been for several months prior.  We have taken steps to rectify this issue and insure that this will never happen again.”

The statement comes after a tweet from a prominent civil rights activist saying the department was putting Nike shirts on its inmates for mug shots in protest of the company’s deal with Colin Kaepernick.

Shaun King posted an image Wednesday of 12 inmates wearing various Nike shirts. He included the caption, “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. Disgusting.”

Since the accusation became public, the Union County Sheriff’s Office has removed inmate photos from its online jail roster.

According to Arkansas Online, inmates in Nike shirts started popping up September 15.

Kaepernick became a household name in 2016 when he took a knee during the national anthem in an effort to protest police brutality. Last month, he reemerged as a spokesperson for Nike with the new slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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