On Wednesday evening, journalist and activist Shaun King tweeted an image of multiple mugshots from a small sheriff’s department in Arkansas. King shared the same image to his Facebook page.
Eighteen people of varying ages and races can be seen wearing three different Nike t-shirts in the PicCollage image of mugshots from the Union County Sheriff in El Dorado, Arkansas.
King’s tweet read:
“The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots. Source says it is to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick.”
The Sheriff in Union County, Arkansas is putting Nike t-shirts on people they arrest and making them wear them during mugshots.
Source says it is to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/9z9Nw9hxuF
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 11, 2018
King’s post has garnered over 2,000 retweets and nearly 3,000 likes only two hours after it was posted. The same image, posted to Facebook, has been shared almost 11,000 times.
Colin Kaepernick, the now famous NFL quarterback who caused significant controversy starting in 2016 after kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, became the new face of Nike in early September. This caused significant outrage among conservative sports fans and prompted some to destroy their Nike branded gear.
Twitter users were quick to point out the obvious irony that the department had to first purchase the t-shirts before forcing arrestees to wear them. Others expressed their outrage.
A quick Google search reveals the personality of Sheriff Ricky Roberts’ department.
The first image to appear, of officers clad in army fatigues with weapons and facepaint, appears on the department’s Facebook page. It is labeled simply “NARCOTICS OFFICERS.”
Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott is apparently attempting to verify the validity of the image.
— Joyce Elliott (@xjelliott) October 11, 2018
Another Twitter user, who indicated that the Union County Sheriff’s department is located in his hometown, has tweeted that this story is true.
Its true. Its my hometown. Sheriff claims it isn't what it seems. Smh.
— E Will (@TheRealHypnotik) October 11, 2018
Less than an hour after King’s social media post, the Union County Sheriff’s department removed all inmate images from their website.
Union County booking photos showing inmates wearing Nike t-shirts can still be found at arrests.org. Some inmates appear to be wearing Nike shirts over their own shirts, while others are photographed wearing their own shirts. For example, the two mugshots below were taken on the same day but only one inmate is wearing a Nike shirt.
The Union County Sheriff’s department has yet to comment.
Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts has since responded to the attention the department’s booking photos have received. Roberts told Fox16 that inmates were given the Nike shirts when they were not wearing “proper attire during the booking process.” He claims there shirts were not purchased for this purpose, but were simply already on-hand.
Roberts said in a statement:
“We are not, and will not, be influenced by current political and social debates in the media. 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.”