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EL DORADO, Ark. - An Arkansas sheriff denies allegations that he is dressing inmates in Nike T-shirts for booking photos in a protest against the company for its use of Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign.
"We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media," Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts said in a statement, KLRT reported. "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 ensure that this will never happen again."
Inmates began appearing in the Nike apparel around Sept. 15, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Nike announced Sept. 4 that Kaepernick was the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Kaepernick has drawn controversy since he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to draw attention to racial inequality.
Activist Shaun King posted a photo Wednesday of 12 inmates wearing a black Nike T-shirt.
“(Roberts) is putting Nike T-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots,” King wrote on Twitter. “Disgusting.”
In response, the sheriff removed all booking images from the website about an hour later, the Democrat-Gazette reported. Before the images were removed, 20 of 193 inmates were pictured in the shirt.
Trying to access the Union County jail roster online. Apparently so is everyone else. Can’t get the page to load to actually check this out for myself. https://t.co/cA7k94THKJ— Matt Mershon (@MattMershonKATV) October 11, 2018
Roberts told KLRT the shirts were given to people without proper attire or if they were wearing a work uniform.
Sheriff says “it’s our job to protect people” like Colin Kaepernick and their right to protest. “There was no malice.” @KATVNews— Matt Mershon (@MattMershonKATV) October 11, 2018