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Nat’l Police Unions Differ On Nike Ad



The Colin Kaepernick debate was bolstered last week when Nike enlisted Kaepernick in its latest “Just Do it” promotion scheme with its “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The ad has begun airing during NFL televised games.

Now Kaepernick will make millions not throwing touchdowns, but as the face of one of the world’s most profitable companies.

For the past two years, the former San Francisco ‘49 Quarterback has been unemployed, unable to sign a contract with any of the 32 NFL teams. It stems from his controversial kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem to protest against police shootings of unarmed Black people and other injustices.

Opponents of Nike’s move have promised to boycott the brand and posted videos of them burning sneakers and T-shirts on FaceBook.

Many Blacks and other progressive activists, on the other hand, have shown support as the price of Nike stock and sale of its sports wear has risen.

But the discussion over the ad’s theme has stirred debate between a union representing Black police officers and its White counterpart.

Sonia Pruitt of the National Black Police Association, during an interview on the Friday Sept. 7 edition of the NPR newscast “Morning Edition,” said her organization supported it.

Meanwhile the Fraternal Order of Police, which has diverse membership, including many Black members, denounced it, saying the public understands when law enforcement is being insulted.

The National Black Police Association (NBPA) had a different response, according to Pruitt, its chairperson, who said, “It’s our job to protect the rights of the public to peacefully protest.”

“To peacefully protest, meaning it’s fine with you if Kaepernick is protesting police killing,” host Steve Inskeep asked her, and she said, “Absolutely.”

“… (A)s Black officers, we live in two worlds,” Pruitt said. “We’re the police, and we understand that world. But we’re also citizens of the African-American community, so we understand that world and the context of policing in our history as well.

Inskeep pointed out, “There must be times there’s a Black and a White officer in the same squad car for hours on end, and this subject comes up.”

Pruitt responded, “You know, the great thing about being human is that you should be able to live or coexist and have differences of opinions. When it comes down to it, if we do have a difference of opinion, sometimes it’s hard to overcome that. We should be open to conversation, which I don’t think we’re having at the level that we should in police departments right now, though.

“So how is it, broadly speaking, that African-American police officers have viewed the string of highly publicized police killings in recent years?” the interviewer asked Pruitt,

“We feel that some of them have been unjust,” she said. “We feel that some of them, there could have been another option besides a shooting and a killing.”

Inskeep noted many police officers used deadly force because they say, “I felt threatened in whatever situation. And we could go through incident after incident after incident.

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

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