A sheriff in Arkansas is taking some heat for allegedly forcing inmates in his jail to wear Nike t-shirts in their mugshots, a move he did, according to an anonymous source, in an effort to mock Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign late this past summer, upsetting many Americans who disagreed with his choice to kneel during the national anthem when he was quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick did so to protest racial injustices in America, specifically disparities in policing between whites and people of color, the Associated Press reported in September.
Not everyone agreed with Kaepernick’s right to free speech, and it appears that Sheriff Rickey Roberts of Union County, Arkansas, is one of those who took issue, the Root reported earlier this week. According to a source speaking to journalist Shaun King, who tweeted the image on Thursday showing a variety of inmates wearing Nike shirts, Roberts did so in order to “mock” Kaepernick.
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. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/9z9Nw9hxuF
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 11, 2018
Many, though not all, of the inmates Roberts appears to have forced into wearing the t-shirts, are African-American inmates, giving credence to some of Kaepernick’s claims that police treatment of people of color in America is derogatory and disrespectful.
When caught in the act of trying to use inmates as a means of staging a political message, after King had shared the image on Twitter, Roberts issued a press release trying to say that his intention was never to involve those in his care in such messaging. In fact, he hastily explained, the shirts were purchased for these inmates because they lacked proper attire.
“In an attempt to provide individuals with a sense of dignity, along with providing a photograph which is appropriate for public viewing, we provide these individuals with clothing to wear,” Roberts wrote.
As the Root pointed out in its reporting, most of the inmates don’t appear to need such attire, as they’re wearing t-shirts underneath the Nike shirts that were provided to them. Still, Roberts maintained his claims, writing, “I require that my staff treat everyone with the utmost dignity and respect.”