On Wednesday, prominent activist Shaun King took to Twitter to accuse the sheriff’s department in Union County, Arkansas, of dressing inmates in Nike T-shirts for their mugshots as a way of mocking Nike’s support of athlete Colin Kaepernick.
In the tweet, he shared 12 mugshots, which, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, came from photos that began to show up on the jail’s online roster around Sept. 15. According to the Democrat-Gazette, the sheriff’s office removed all photos of inmates from the jail’s online roster Wednesday night, less than an hour after King’s tweet.
Before then, 11 of the 182 mugshots involved the same black Nike T-shirts.
Sheriff Ricky Roberts told Fox16 that Shaun’s allegation was untrue and that the shirts were not purchased by the department and were simply given to those without “proper attire during the booking process.” However, in the photos, the inmates can be clearly seen wearing shirts underneath the Nike T-shirts.
“We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media,” he said in a statement, according to Fox16. “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.”
After Nike signed Kaepernick as the face of its “Just Do It” campaign, conservatives immediately responded with anger. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback became a household name in 2016 when he knelt in protest of police violence against black people during the national anthem. In the first Nike ad, released in September, Kaepernick tells viewers: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Conservatives cast him as an unpatriotic and disrespectful ingrate, and some of the more outraged among them voiced their anger by burning and defacing socks, shoes, and other Nike athletic wear. President Trump also voiced his displeasure in a slightly incoherent answer to the Daily Caller: “I think it’s a terrible message that [Nike is] sending, and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it, but I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be said.”