Veteran-owned clothing company releases Betsy Ross Flag T-shirt in response to Nike controversy

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A Georgia clothing company is releasing a Betsy Ross flag t-shirt in objection to Nike’s decision to pull its Fourth of July-themed sneaker collection following concerns raised by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick that the apparel is racially insensitive.

Nine Line Apparel, a veteran-owned apparel company located in Savannah, Ga., took issue with the fact that Nike canceled what it saw was “patriotic release.” The Georgia company believes the Betsy Ross flag directly represents the “freedom fought and owned by early Americans,” according to a description on its website.

“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,” the description reads.

The company added that Nike’s decision to pull the line makes it look like they don’t care about Independence Day.

“For Colin Kaepernick and Nike to say no to the release of what would have probably been a popular shoe for their summer footwear line is like saying no to our 4th of July holiday,” the website says. “The Betsy Ross flag has a direct correlation with this national patriotic holiday but Kaepernick and Nike don’t care.”

WJCL reported that that Nine Line Apparel’s CEO urged people to stop supporting Nike and join their boycott using the hashtag “#NoToNike.”

“The American people should support the red, white, and blue and boycott Nike and join our #NoToNike campaign,” Nine Line Apparel CEO and retired U.S. Army captain Tyler Merritt told WJCL. “Nike says ‘just do it.’ We say just stand – stand for your beliefs and for your country.”

While representatives from Nike did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment, Nike spokesman Mark Rhodes told Yahoo Sports in a statement on Monday that the company “has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag.”

In a Facebook post, Nine Line Apparel called out both Nike and Kaepernick, writing, “Apparently, symbols of patriotism are now racist.”

People immediately reacted to the post, some with comments mocking Nike for making decisions based on the former NFL star’s objections.

“I’m amazed that Nike lets Colin make its business decisions,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “Yes, I’m sure consumers are buying these to celebrate slavery. Stop giving this guy any extra publicity.”

Others highlighted Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s tweets against the company as well as his decision to “to withdraw all financial incentive dollars under their discretion that the State was providing for the company to locate here.”

“Proud of our AZ governor……he pulled funding from Nike because of this decision,” a person commented. Someone else wrote “Proud of AZ governor. I will NEVER purchase another Nike item #boycott.”

This isn’t the first time Nine Line Apparel has opposed Nike and Kaepernick, who was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Nine Line Apparel launched a “Just Stand” shirt in September 2018 in response to Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” 30th-anniversary campaign, along with the quote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

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Nine Line’s Betsy Ross t-shirt is a limited time special and sales will close on July 6.

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Nine Line Apparel for comment.

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