After national coverage, the town of North Smithfield, Rhode Island rescinded the resolution that banned any town employees from the purchase of Nike Products this past Monday.
This resolution, which was originally passed 3-2 on Sept. 8, received national critique and sparked conversations across the University of Rhode Island.
Following the footsteps of some other towns across the nation, this resolution occurred after Nike aired an ad starring Colin Kaepernick, an ex-NFL player. Kaepernick’s signing with Nike came under scrutiny after kneeling during the national anthem in the 2016 season to protest what he perceived as systemic injustice towards African-Americans in the United States.
Aron Finnerman, a junior at the University of Rhode Island and a Smithfield native said, “I thought [the Nike ban] was very unnecessary.”
“I’m opposed to the Nike ban. I played sports in Smithfield. I played football. We never had any Nike uniform or anything like that. I thought it was absurd, there was no reason to have this banned. It was just personal reasons by the leaders of the town,” said Finnerman.
Finnerman says that nothing like this had ever brought so much negative press to his town. He made it clear that this is an unprecedented level of attention for the Rhode Island town.
Finnerman was quite surprised to learn that the resolution had passed. “I did not think it would go through. I thought it would make a little bit of noise and knowing the people of North Smithfield, I knew it was something they wouldn’t stand for either,” Finnerman said.
Another North Smithfield local and URI senior, Ryan Hartley, said “I thought it was stupid for a couple reasons. First reason is even though people agree or disagree with Colin Kaepernick, he still has the right to [protest], it’s his constitutional right. Even though I personally don’t agree with it he has a right.”
Hartley was also surprised to hear that the motion passed but not so much when it was rescinded. “I know a lot of people I went to school with and their parents didn’t want it to go through, they were really against it,” said Hartley. “I’m not surprised the repeal vote was unanimous at that point from all the backlash,” said Hartley.
He also mentioned that he feels the town councils efforts could be better spent elsewhere.
Though the town of North Smithfield unanimously voted to repeal the ban, the council President made it clear he still felt that Kaepernick’s actions were disrespectful to the police.