The Union County Sheriff's Office is facing accusations that it was mocking Colin Kaepernick by making people they arrest wear Nike shirts in their mug shots, according to KLRT-TV.
The trend was first pointed out by Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King on Twitter -- that's also the source of the rumor that it was intentionally to mock Kaepernick and his Nike ad campaign, which the department denies.
"We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media," Sheriff Ricky Roberts said in a statement. "This shirt is not only in use now, but has been for several months prior. We have taken steps to rectify this issue and ensure that this will never happen again."
What's the story?
King posted that an anonymous "source" told him that the Nike shirts were intentionally put on the inmates "to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick." King called the move "disgusting."
The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them duri… https://t.co/SS54HO03qE— Shaun King (@Shaun King) 1539218229.0
The sheriff's department, suddenly facing a fierce online backlash after King's widely-shared tweet, maintains that the shirts were not purchased, but rather just shirts that the department has on hand for people to wear when they don't have "proper attire" for the mug shot.
In fact, the sheriff said it's actually a favor to the inmate, in a way — they pick a shirt out of the box instead of wearing inmate stripes, which could make them look more guilty before they are even convicted.
The sheriff also said if an inmate has on their uniform while taking their mug, they allow them to pick a shirt out… https://t.co/M1NMVsEk6J— Cherith Cobbs (@Cherith Cobbs) 1539273495.0
Even though the sheriff said the department meant no harm and has done nothing wrong, he still apologized to people who were offended.
"It has come to my attention that shirts worn by individuals booked into our facility have been deemed offensive by certain individuals," a letter from the sheriff read. "It is not our intent, nor has it ever been our intent, to demean or disparage those who are innocent until proven guilty.
"I understand the concern of those who may have found this offensive, and for that I apologize," Roberts concluded.
(H/T New York Post)