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Nike resists Menino's call to remove crude Back Bay window display

Posted by Sara Brown  June 22, 2011 02:46 PM

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(Sara Brown for

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has contested this Niketown's Newbury Street window display.

A day after Mayor Thomas M. Menino asked the Back Bay Niketown to remove a window display featuring T-shirts emblazoned with "Dope" and "Get High," the store is refusing to remove the display, and shoppers say they are fine with this decision.

As the Boston Herald reported, Menino sent a letter Tuesday to Jennifer Wichland, the general manager of the Newbury Street store, saying that the shirts featuring drug references and profanity "are out of keeping with the character of Boston's Back Bay, our entire city, and our aspirations for our young people...not to mention common sense."

He urged the retailer to remove the shirts, which also feature pill bottles and the phrase "F--k Gravity," with the middle part of the first word obscured.

The display was still up today, and in a statement this afternoon, Nike said the display was meant to promote its products.

“In no way does Nike condone the use of banned or illegal substances," the retailer said in a statement. "This is about sport and being authentic to action sports. The shirts are part of an action sports campaign, featuring marquee athletes using commonly used and accepted expression for performance at the highest level of their sport, be it surfing, skate or BMX.”

Shoppers interviewed today seemed to back the store's right to show the display.

"I think it's freedom of speech," said Rich, a Boston resident, as he exited the store. He said that if parents are offended by a double entendre, they shouldn't purchase the shirts for their children, and the company might want to use discretion if there is a public outcry.

"The mayor shouldn't be telling people what to do," he added, saying asking Nike to remove the T-shirts was "stepping over political and power boundaries."

Jon Beery, 24, noticed the display as he walked down Newbury Street. "It speaks to the direction our society is going," he said of the T-shirt display. "Down the tubes."

Nike has "every right" to create the display, the Boston resident added. "But do I think it's prudent and appropriate for the young'uns running around? No."

The clothing is part of the company's "Nike 6.0" line, which "delivers footwear and apparel to support the new generation of action sports athletes who are changing the worlds of surf, snow, ski, BMX, wake and moto."

The "Get High" shirt is a "bold tribute to action sports," according to the company's website, and "Dope" features a "prescription for serious action."

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