“Acting upon advice from the city attorney, I have rescinded my memorandum of September 5, 2018,” Mayor Ben Zahn said at an afternoon press conference. “That memorandum divided our city, and placed Kenner in a false, unflattering light on a national stage.”
Zahn sent out the controversial memo on September 5 with a directive banning all booster clubs from purchasing Nike products, a day after Nike made headlines by introducing Colin Kaepernick as one of the faces of its “Just Do It”30th-anniversary ad campaign.
“Effective immediately all purchases made by any booster club at any Kenner Recreation Facility for wearing apparel, shoes, athletic equipment, and/or any athletic product must be approved by the Director of Parks and Recreation, or his designee,” the memo read. “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation Facility.”
Zahn said his overwhelming sense of patriotism was behind his decision, something he said he refuses to apologize for.
“I am passionate about my country and the brave men and women who put themselves on the front line every day,” he said. “In the name of protecting us all, members of the armed forces, our fire departments, our police departments, actually sacrificed everything – their very lives. It is because of those sacrifices that my patriotism will not waver, but my focus needs to be on the city of Kenner and the many great projects we have in store for our city. Nothing can be allowed to distract us from that very important endeavor.”
Hours before Zahn's announcement of the reversal of the ban, the ACLU of Louisiana issued a statement calling the ban unconstitutional.
“We’re pleased the mayor reconsidered his divisive stance and rescinded this unconstitutional policy,” ACLU of Louisiana executive director Alanah Odoms Hebert said. “The reversal of this ban is good news for the people of Kenner and all Louisianans, who have a constitutional right to express their political views free from government censorship or discrimination. Officials across the state should remember: they took an oath to serve all their constituents, regardless of what brand they wear or what political views they hold.”