How To Alienate A City: A Lesson From Kenner’s Mayor

Boxes of Nike Shoes

Around 8:45 am Sunday morning, we broke the story that the mayor of Kenner had attempted to ban Nike products from all city recreational facilities. We received a copy of an internal City of Kenner memo and posted it on our Facebook page. According to the document, not only did the mayor want to ensure no city funds were used to purchase Nike products; he wanted to prevent any of the booster organizations who used city facilities from buying and using Nike products as well.

It was the start of a very busy day.

At first, no one believed that the memo was real. After all, the city hadn’t released the memo publicly. Even local council members weren’t informed of the new policy. And no other local news organizations were reporting it.

“You’ve been hoodwinked,” one commenter said on our Facebook post.


It didn’t take long for us to be vindicated. Within a few hours, District 1 Councilmember Gregory Carroll had confirmed the memo and given his thoughts on the matter.

Pretty soon, news outlets across New Orleans were running the story. People were up in arms. The majority felt that not only was this move completely uncalled for – it was illegal and unethical as well.

We all waited for Kenner’s mayor to respond. We waited… and waited… and waited.

In the end, it took a full day before Mayor Ben Zahn crafted a response to the growing firestorm regarding his decision. And the response was… seriously lacking.

“My decision disallowing Nike from profiting from our taxpayers while they are using their powerful voice as a political tool is my message. This government will not let taxpayer dollars be used to promote a company’s or individual’s political position, platform or principle. ”

That is exceedingly hard to believe. In fact, it’s painfully obvious that this move is exactly about Mayor Zahn’s personal political position and agenda than it is anything else. After all, it was only last week that he was caught on video criticizing NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem.

“I’m going to ask y’all to stand for what’s about to happen. …Because this is not the NFL football players, right? This is the city of Kenner. In the city of Kenner, we all stand.”

The fact that the memo itself was issued on the same day that Nike unveiled their new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick is further proof that this move is more a statement of Mayor Zahn’s personal beliefs than it is to protect Kenner’s citizens. Colin Kaepernick is, of course, the former NFL quarterback who began the NFL kneeling protest during the national anthem – a protest that most likely cost him his career, as no team has signed him after the 2016 season when he began the campaign.

According to Brian Williams, a veteran coach of several Kenner recreational programs, the city has never purchased any Nike gear for recreational programs. This is further proof of the point. In a public statement, Coach Williams said that he and other coaches were extremely offended at the implication that the city ever provided enough money for programs to purchase Nike products. He and other coaches have been spending their own money to provide equipment and uniforms for the children in their programs. They buy what gear they can afford out of their own pockets due to the city’s inadequate financial support of the programs. For Mayor Zahn to now dictate to them how they can use the money that they themselves have raised is a complete slap in the face.

New Orleans is unusually progressive for a city in the deep south. And though Kenner is only a suburb, it is home to New Orleans International Airport, and therefore the gateway to New Orleans for many of our visitors. Mayor Zahn’s attempted ban on Nike products is exceedingly tone deaf, especially given the city’s majority African American population – many of whom support Kaepernick’s attempts to raise awareness of racial injustices and inequality in the United States.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell agrees.

As do many citizens of both Kenner and New Orleans. Monday night, hundreds of people gathered in a protest against the Nike ban – including New Orleans Saints players Cam Jordan, Craig Robertson, Terron Armstead, and Chris Banjo.

Even former mayor Mitch Landrieu feels the ban is uncalled for – even unpatriotic.

I, for one, agree. Not only is this an attempt at using a position of political power to further Mayor Zahn’s own personal beliefs – this is also an attempt to stifle the free speech of Kenner residents who choose to support the Nike brand and stand (or rather, kneel) with Colin Kaepernick. It’s a decision that is hurtful to the children who participate in Kenner’s recreational programs.

And it’s not something that the city of Kenner, or any city, should allow to go unchecked.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

We’re so grateful to our friends, our families, our neighbors, and especially our readers for chipping in, sharing, and donating to the cause of local progressive media. Your support has lifted us up so much and will most assuredly not be lost or forgotten.

If you care about local independent progressive media in an era where multi-millionaires such as John Georges are monopolizing our local press, then please donate any amount you can to make our operation a success. We can do this! Do not give up.

What else can you do if you’ve already donated and can’t donate anymore? Share our content on Facebook and tell people about our fundraising operation. Call and email others who may be able to give. We believe in you because you believe in us and together we can ensure Big Easy Magazine becomes a progressive icon for New Orleans and an inspiration for the expansion of progressive media around the world.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Things to Do
Add Some Progress to Your Inbox
Big Easy Magazine sends weekly emails to keep you informed about what’s going on in our community and beyond.
We respect your privacy.