Henderson, NV - The Coalition of African American Pastors has called on Nike to reinstate its Betsy Ross flag shoes that were never released after former National Football League (NFL) quarterback Colin Kaepernick objected to them.
Kaepernick threw a stink during 4th of July week and claimed that Nike’s Independence Day shoe was racist and offensive.
The sneaker featured an early version of the American flag – known as the Betsy Ross flag – on the heels.
The American Revolution-era flag design dates back to the 1770s, and has a circle of 13 stars and stripes representing the original 13 colonies.
Nike posted images of the sneakers online ahead of their scheduled release, and had already shipped the shoes to retailers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
When Kaepernick saw photos of the sneakers, he contacted the company to complain that it was offensive to use a symbol that stemmed back to an era of slavery in the United States.
The company abruptly asked merchants to return the shipments of $140 shoes, but provided no explanation as to why.
Numerous other shoe and apparel companies responded to the ridiculous scenario by quickly creating for sale numerous items that featured the Betsy Ross flag.
Coalition of African American Pastors President Reverend Bill Owens sent a letter to Nike attached to an online petition asking the company to reinstate the cancelled shoe, the Commercial Appeal reported.
"Removing the Betsy Ross flag shoes at his behest implies that your company shares his negative view of America, its founders, and the woman who designed the first flag," Owens wrote. "... For a long time, sport has been something that brings Americans together. Nike has been one of the companies we associate with 'Team USA.' Please don’t tarnish that legacy by continuing to cater to anti-American politics."
“Many of us marched in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and have an established record of civic activism,” the letter continued. “We represent a variety of races, ethnicities, and creeds. And we agree that Mr. Kaepernick’s views on America and the flag are fringe opinions, not shared by any of us … especially the African Americans who marched against segregation with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, we find Mr. Kaepernick’s views to be ill-informed and offensive, especially to veterans and others who have served this country.”
“Mr. Kaepernick does not represent us. Moreover, he has tainted our view of your brand. Removing the Betsy Ross flag shoes at his behest implies that your company shares his negative view of America, its founders, and the woman who designed the first flag,” he wrote.
“How can we purchase merchandise for ourselves or our families from a company that holds those views of our country?” Owens’ letter asked.
“If this is not the case, we urge you to make it clear that you respect the American flag, its people, and its Founders,” the pastor wrote, giving the shoe company an out. “We ask that you sever your relationship with Mr. Kaepernick, who has become synonymous with radical anti-American sentiment. And we ask that you make amends to veterans by producing a select run of the Betsy Ross shoes for the benefit of veterans groups and organizations that help military families.”
Owens told the Commercial Appeal that a petition on his coalition’s website that asks Nike to end its relationship with Kaepernick was gaining momentum.
“We just don’t feel that it was fair that they would pull this flag because [Kaepernick] opposed it — because he opposes a lot of things," the pastor said. "We love this country, we love the flag and we love most things about this country, whereas there are some people who just find something to complain about anything.”
Joseph Murphy, a retired police officer who now runs patriotic apparel company Warrior 12, incorporates the flag in many of the company's shirt designs. (DISCLOSURE: Warrior 12 produces official Blue Lives Matter shirts and gear and the proceeds support Blue Lives Matter. )
Disgusted that an international brand continues to listen to Kaepernick about what Murphy calls "non-existent issues," he decided to release new shirts which incorporate both the Betsy Ross flag and support for law enforcement.
Murphy was outspoken immediately after he heard how Nike was disrespecting the Betsy Ross flag.
"There's nothing racist about this flag," Murphy explained to Blue Lives Matter. "The problem is that racial identitarians like Kaepernick tend to see everything through the lens of racism."
"It's getting to the point where any American who is proud of their country is being viewed as racist. It's madness," Murphy added.
"Unlike Nike, we're not going to cater to these race-obsessed wackjobs," Murphy said.