Mr. Mark Parker
Chairman, Nike, Inc.
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005
Having recently been advised of the comments referred to you by Michael McHale, President of the National Association of Police Organizations, as they regard your selection of Colin Kaepernick for your current “Just Do It” advertising campaign, I felt that it was needful for you to be provided with a different viewpoint, one that is equally representative of the feelings of law enforcement officers who have both served and sacrificed for the sake of the nation.
Our organization, consisting of men and women of color who serve at all levels and ranks within various criminal justice agencies throughout the nation, finds it suitable to support Mr. Kaepernick’s chosen method of protest as it is constitutionally his right to do so. This, in fact, seems to be a point of fact that has escaped both Mr. McHale and all others who have chosen to be offended. In fact, the United States Supreme Court, in the landmark case of Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) affirmed the constitutionality of a person’s right to burn the flag if they so choose, which is obviously a much more notorious type of ‘disrespect’ for the nation’s principal emblem of patriotism than the act of “taking a knee”.
Yet disrespect for the flag, the military and what they symbolize was not the original intent or cause for Kaepernick’s protest, again a simple fact that appears to have been neglected, and apparently seriously misunderstood, by Mr. McHale and others that have taken offense at Mr. Kaepernick’s actions. The continuing, mounting display of racial/ethnic disparities in the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers and the seeming lack of judicial accountability for those actions was the sole and principal genesis of his protest and continues to be so to this very day. His protest was begun out of a search for justice and equality, rather than as a symbol of disrespect and discourteousness. Thus, your inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in your current advertising campaign, and the slogan you have chosen, would seem to be highly appropriate.
As to NAPO’s complaint regarding the perceived falsehood that police are racist, we must remind them of the documented fact that the very foundations of the law enforcement profession were based, by design, on the concepts of controlling people of color and lower income. This in no way should be interpreted as saying that all law enforcement officers are racists, but must be accepted as an acknowledgement and understanding that there are amongst us those who utilize the power and might of their position to perpetuate racial profiling, police misconduct, excessive use of force, and unethical, nonprofessional behavior where it concerns their dealings with people of color.
As to our right to provide this viewpoint, African American law enforcement officers have served this nation honorably for nearly two centuries and have played a significantly pivotal role in the scheme of police-community relations, even while their services, impact and accomplishments have been largely ignored by White researchers, commentators, and their professional counterparts. Our members, just as our counterparts, have given their life’s blood in the protection of this nation and our sacrifices have been no less. And yes, the names of our members have also been enshrined and memorialized on the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial in our nations’ capital. They have, through their actions and deeds, epitomized your slogan of “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just Do It!” Thus it is our constitutional privilege, and in fact our constitutional honor, to support you in your efforts.
Lastly, we can find no insult, and thus take no offense at your course of action in this matter. Our commitment to strengthening the bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve demands that we support your current efforts. Our oath to serve all equally, with fairness, honor, dignity, and the assurance of equal justice for all requires no less.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc., a 501.c.3 non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.