An Arkansas sheriff is under fire from activists and law enforcement critics for dressing inmates in Nike shirts before their mugshots are taken. The critics say Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts is using the shirts as a political statement against Nike and the company’s spokesperson Colin Kaepernick. The sheriff disputes the accusation.

Sheriff Roberts says the shirts were given to people who came into the jail without “proper attire during the booking process.”  Roberts says the shirts weren’t purchased by his department — but rather, already on-hand, Fox 16 reports

“We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media,” Roberts said in a statement.  “This shirt is not only in use now, but has also been for several months prior.  We have taken steps to rectify this issue and insure that this will never happen again.”

The statement comes after a tweet from activist Shaun King saying the department was putting Nike shirts on its inmates for mug shots in protest of the company’s deal with Colin Kaepernick.

Since the accusation became public, the Union County Sheriff’s Office has removed inmate photos from its online jail roster.


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