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Police associations split on Nike's decision to feature Kaepernick. Race blamed for divide.

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A recent Nike ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has police associations in the U.S. divided. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While Nike and Colin Kaepernick bask in the attention from a controversial new ad campaign featuring the former NFL quarterback and activist, law enforcement organizations across the country are speaking out.

However, they're not all on the same page, and according to two black police associations, race is part of the reason why.

What are they saying?

The day after Kaepernick announced he would be part of Nike's 30th anniversary "Just do it" campaign, the National Fraternal Order of Police and the National Association of Police Organization publicly condemned the decision.

A statement issued by the NFOP said, "Colin Kaepernick and all Americans have the constitutional right to freely express their views, even if they are uninformed and inflammatory."

The NFOP stopped short of calling for a boycott of the apparel brand, saying it could "serve only to enrich the company," and acknowledged that Americans understand "when the law enforcement profession is being insulted — we have no doubt they will make their purchases with that insult in mind."

"If Nike chooses to create an ad campaign featuring a former quarterback who describes cops as 'pigs' and makes large donations to the family of a convicted cop killer and wanted fugitive, Joanne Chesimard, who murdered New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in cold blood in 1973, they are free to do so," the statement went on to say.

Chesimard — also known as Assata Shakur — is a former member of the Black Liberation Army, who broke out of prison while serving a life sentence for the murder of Foerster and fled to Cuba.

The union was referring to a $25,000 donation made by Kaepernick in 2017 to a group named after Chesimard, called Assata's Daughters, which according to the Daily Mail was founded to "develop and train young people, ages 4-19, in the Black queer feminist tradition and in the spirit of Assata."

The NAPO's statement did call for an outright boycott of Nike products, saying "Mr. Kaepernick is known, not as a successful athlete, but as a shallow dilettante seeking to gain notoriety by disrespecting the flag for which so many Americans have fought and died."

It's newsletter closed by stating, "Nike grossly insults the men and women who really do make sacrifices for the sake of our nation."

Black police groups disagree

On Thursday, Nike CEO Mark Parker received letters from both the National Black Police Association and the Ethical Society of Police, rejecting NAPO's statement and offering their support of the company's glorification of Kaepernick.

Both organizations slammed NAPO, saying it does not represent the views of all law enforcement.

The NBPA wrote, "For NAPO to presuppose that Mr. Kaepernick has not made sacrifices because he did not die on a battlefield, shows you just how out of touch NAPO is with the African-American community."

In its statement, the ESOP — an association of roughly 300 black officers in the St. Louis metro area — questioned the intentions of NAPO's statement and went on a tirade against President Donald Trump.

The ESOP's letter stated that NAPO's "stance adds to the divide between communities of color and law enforcement. The ESOP questions the true motives behind the NAPO request for a boycott of Nike."

Referring to Trump, the ESOP statement went on to list a number of instances where NAPO could have taken a stand against other "acts that can be perceived as being unpatriotic."

A few of the instances that ESOP President Heather Taylor pointed to in the letter were when the president broke tradition by raising the White House flag to full-staff shortly after the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and when "the sitting President of the United States of America, on the world stage, acquiesced to an enemy of our nation in the presence of that enemy."

ESOP was likely referring to Trump's controversial joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, where Trump questioned the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian interfered with the 2016 U.S. election.

Taylor concluded in the letter that "minority officers can't afford to deny police brutality exists, or attempt to silence those that resist police brutality because we (minority officers) could very well be on the other end of police brutality."

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