Nike recently announced former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick—who began the NFL protest of racial injustice and unequal treatment by law enforcement by kneeling during the national anthem—will be one of the five faces for their 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign.
Kaepernick appears alongside the slogan:
"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
As Nike surely expected, conservatives everywhere were outraged, with many even choosing to burn their shoes and cut up their Nike apparel in protest.
On Tuesday, September 4, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) wrote a letter to Nike condemning their decision.
The letter from NAPO read:
Dear Chairman Parker,
On behalf of the more than 241,000 law enforcement officers represented by our Association across the country, I write to you to condemn in the strongest possible terms your selection of Colin Kaepernick for Nike's 'Just Do It' ad campaign. Mr. Kaepernick is known, not as a successful athlete, but as a shallow dilettante seeking to gain notoriety by disrespecting the flag for which so many Americans have fought and died.
The inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in Nike's 'Just Do It' ad campaign also perpetuates the falsehood that police are racist and aiming to use force against African Americans and persons of color. In reality, officers across the nation risk their lives not only protecting the athletes featured in Nike's various campaigns, but also serve aspiring athletes across the country who use the Nike brand, through the thousands of Police Athletic Leagues, Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brother/Big Sister programs where our officers donate their time and energy. They deserve to have the respect and full support of corporate citizens like Nike.
Adding to the insult is the image of Mr. Kaepernick from the campaign featuring the quote 'Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.' The fact that Mr. Kaepernick is no longer a starting NFL player does not equate to him being someone who has 'sacrificed everything'. To truly understand what it means to 'believe in something' and 'sacrifice everything', you should look to Arlington National Cemetery, or to the National Law Enforcement Officers' Memorial in Washington, D.C., or to the trauma unit of a military hospital. The brave men and women of every race and color buried there, memorialized there, healing there, believed in this nation and our flag and exemplify the true meaning of 'sacrifice.'
But after the letter was made public, Chairman Parker received a second letter from the National Black Police Association. They made it clear that NAPO should NOT count them when claiming to represent 241,000 police officers.
The NBPA made it clear they did NOT agree with NAPO's earlier letter:
It is with great dismay that we were made aware of a letter that you received from the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) regarding the use of Colin Kaepernick in your 'Just Do It' advertising campaign.
The National Black Police Asociation (NBPA) is not in agreement on this matter and we strongly condemn the call for police officers and their families to boycott Nike and its products.
The NBPA letter also stated:
Your inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in your ads seems appropriate to us. We live in a country where the 1st Amendment is a right of the people.
Mr. Kaepernick chose to exercise his right where his passion was—on the football field. NAPO believes that Mr. Kaepernick's choice to openly protest issues surrounding police brutality, racism and social injustice in this country makes him anti-police.
On the contrary, the NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick's stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for—the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety, and their rights as American citizens.
The NBPA makes a pretty airtight point: whether or not you agree with his protest, Kaepernick's wish to peacefully bring attention to a human rights issue is the exact thing police officers are meant to protect.
They went on to say:
For NAPO to presuppose that Mr. Kaepernick has not made sacrifices because he did not die on a battlefield, shows you just how out of touch NAPO is with the African American community.
"f they had asked the NBPA, we would have told them they were out of line.
Twitter was overjoyed to hear the National Black Police Association's message:
The NBPA's letter ends by saying:
We will likely be buying and wearing a lot of Nikes in the near future.