(CBS SF / CNN) — Nike is canceling a sneaker that featured the “Betsy Ross” version of the American flag from the late 18th century.
“Nike has chosen not to release the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July as it featured an old version of the American flag,” Nike said in a statement to CNN Business.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that the athletic-wear company delivered the sneakers to retailers, but asked stores to return them to Nike after the company received a complaint from former NFL star Colin Kaepernick. The Journal indicated Kaepernick said he and others found the shoe offensive because of its ties to America’s era of slavery.
Kaepernick, who last played in 2016 for the San Francisco 49ers, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
The shoe was set to be released Monday for $140, according to Sneakernews.com. The website included photos of a shoe that featured a version of the American flag with 13 stars organized in a circle and 13 stripes. That version of the flag, according to the Smithsonian, was used in the United States from 1777 to 1795.
It is unclear if any of the shoes were sold.
“I take my hat off to Nike and what they did. And will support Nike in the best way I can and buy some stock,” said Rev. Jeff Moore, with the NAACP Silicon Valley Chapter.
Moore said the flag with its 13 stars oriented in a circle, is a painful reminder of slavery, and brushed any assertions that critics of the design were being too sensitive.
“It takes us back to the colonies. The colonization and the mistreatment of Native Americans. Colonization and the mistreatment of slaves. So the history behind what that represents of enslavement, and slave mentality, of keeping people under the boot. And so that represents oppression to a certain degree,” said Moore.
At the Fix Kicks, one of the largest sneaker stores in the Bay Area, customer DJ Reposar said he supports Kaepernick speaking out and Nike’s decision to pull the shoe, and feels much of the sneaker community would feel the same.
“It’s such a diverse and mixed group of humans that are in the community, and it’s just countless numbers of people that love everything about it. And the second they hear about it, they don’t want anything to do with it,” said Reposar.
This is the second instance of Nike removing a product in recent days. The company stopped selling some products in China after a fashion designer’s support for protests in Hong Kong sparked a social media backlash.
Nike said in a statement at the time that it had decided to remove some of its goods “based on feedback from Chinese consumers.”
In May, according to footwearnews.com, Nike canceled an Air Force 1 sneaker after an indigenous group in Panama objected to its design.
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