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Credit: @Logicisms
Credit: @Logicisms

#DontDoIt! See The Images That Forced Nike To Respond To Backlash From #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay

It's been a tough 48 hours for the biggest sneaker company on Earth.

On Wednesday, Nike hosted a special promotion for police officers, a #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay that offered 30 percent off to any customer who showed their badge or other police ID. In advertisements, Nike detailed its "support and appreciation for the officers who keep our communities safe and support our stores and outreach initiatives...We thank you for your service to our communities and look forward to your patronage."

Almost immediately, activists and concerned citizens with ties to the Black Lives Matter movement took to social media to criticize Nike for its celebration of police officers at a time when tensions are flaring--and innocent people dying--in connection to police violence, specifically against black Americans. Both Deray McKesson and Ferrari Sheppard quickly emerged as leaders of the anti-#LawEnforcementAppreciationDay pushback, calling for artists and designers to submit images that might help unify the new movement.

The response was swift and intense. From a black fist breaking the trademark Nike swoosh to a satirical "Blackness Appreciation Day" promo ad, twitter seethed with #DontDoIt pushback that received global media attention, with entries coming in from Portland all the way to Nigeria. Nike was ultimately forced to respond and in an official statement posted by Sheppard to his personal twitter account. Faced with what could be described as an existential brand crisis (the reliance of Nike's popularity on a cult of young black male cool has been amply documented, most recently by ESPN's Sole Man feature), the company attempted to wrap itself in the American flag:

Nike has held discount days in its stores for first responders, including law enforcement and the military, since 9/11. Nike has no intention to offend anyone, nor to imply that we are insensitive to the serious issues between law enforcement and black communities in America. We care about and support efforts to continue discussions to create positive change and bring equality for everyone in our society.

Sheppard phrased his critique of Nike's promotion, and the importance of the #DontDoIt campaign, in an eloquent op-ed posted to his StopBeingFamous page. "For Nike to pretend," Sheppard wrote, "to be oblivious to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the increasing national unrest brought on by a torrent of unpunished killings by police, is beyond an insult." Dream Hampton also offered a scathing critique of Nike's pro-cop stance, tweeting "Nike is a brand built by young black people. Young Black ppl are in the streets saying police violence must end. Nike: 'But police are bae'"

For many of us, a pair of Jordans was a beautiful thing that transcended their use value; a bold personal fashion statement that granted entry into a diverse and enterprising community of sneakerheads. That community, however, was never a democracy; Nike owned the ground under it, collecting massive revenue. So much revenue, in fact, that it can apparently afford to give police officers a giant discount and weather the loss of a core block of customers who refuse to compromise their self-worth.

Editors note: While Okayplayer has striven to correctly attribute each artist behind the included images, in some cases it was not immediately clear who was behind certain #DontDoIt entries. Anyone aware of the designers and artists behind the included unattributed images is encouraged to comment below, and credits will be updated accordingly.