Veteran-owned company releases Betsy Ross flag t-shirt after Nike pulls shoes sporting same design

Georgia-based Nine Line Apparel, founded by retired Army Capt. Tyler Merritt, is also calling for a complete boycott of Nike


                            Veteran-owned company releases Betsy Ross flag t-shirt after Nike pulls shoes sporting same design

A veteran-owned company is reportedly facing off Nike after the sports firm pulled its controversial Betsy Ross-flag sneakers meant for July Fourth. A Georgia-based company, Nine Line Apparel, founded by retired Army Capt. Tyler Merritt, is now pushing back against Nike's decision by releasing its own "Betsy Ross" flag t-shirts.

"Nine Line Apparel, along with relentlessly patriotic Americans everywhere, cannot believe the total ignorance and lack of understanding displayed by both Colin Kaepernick and Nike in relation to our country's Betsy Ross flag, it's symbolism and meaning," Nine Line Apparel says on its website.

Nike made the decision to withdraw the shoes from the market after former NFL star and Nike endorser Kaepernick called the Betsy Ross flag shoes 'offensive.' The 31-year-old quarterback, after seeing the sneaker design online, said the old American flag on the sneakers was offensive because of its links to the era of slavery, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick is displayed on the roof of the Nike Store on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Getty Images)

 

The Betsy Ross flag, which features 13 white stars in a circle representing the 13 original US colonies, was created during the American Revolution. Lawmakers, at the time, had advocated the expansion of slavery and declared that those born into slavery were slaves for lives.
 
The flag, in recent times, has been appropriated by several extremist groups who are opposed to the increasing diversity in the country.

Nike, in a statement, had said: "Nike made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation's patriotic holiday. Nike is a company proud of its American heritage."

Reports said the sneakers, called Air Max 1 USA, were set to go on sale this week for $140 and Nike had already shipped the shoes to retailers. However, the firm asked for the shoes to be returned.

Nike Air shoes with the controversial flag emblazoned on it. (Nike)

 

Merritt is now calling for a complete boycott of Nike, saying: "The American people should support the red, white and blue and boycott Nike and join our #NoToNike campaign. Nike says 'just do it.' We say just stand -- stand for your beliefs and for your country," WJCL reported.

Reports state that the Nine Line Apparel, which calls itself a firm "by patriots for patriots", had gone after Nike and the former NFL star last year too. The apparel firm, in September, had released "Just Stand" t-shirts after Nike released an ad campaign featuring Kaepernick and his historic decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

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