Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts has denied claims that his department was mocking former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick after mug shots of multiple inmates wearing Nike t-shirts were posted online. Activist Shaun King shared the photos on Twitter, claiming that an inside source told him the shirts were picked "to mock Nike and Colin Kaepernick."
Roberts explained that the choice of attire was not intentional and had nothing to do with Kaepernick, his new deal with Nike, or the NFL protests. Instead, the shirts were given to inmates who did not have "proper attire" to wear while having their mugshots taken. He explained that the shirts were not purchased by his department and just happened to be on hand when the photos were taken. He added that they have been used for the past few months.
"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[sic] that this will never happen again."
KTVE reporter Cherith Cobbs spoke with Sheriff Roberts, who said that inmates were given the choice to pick appropriate clothing to wear for their booking photo. He also explained that any inmate wearing their prison uniform was given a shirt to wear over the top of the striped clothing because his department does not "want people to convict them before they are charged when they see the stripes in the photos."