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Levi Strauss takes stand on gun control

MIAMI, FL - MAY 31: Levi's clothes are seen on the day President Donald Trump placed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and European Union responded by warning that it would target iconic American brands such as Levi's on May 31, 2018 in Miami, Florida. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union was prepared to respond to the U.S. tariffs by targeting imports of Harley-Davidson Inc. motorbikes, Levi Strauss & Co. jeans and bourbon whiskey. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

San Francisco’s iconic fashion brand Levi Strauss & Company is taking a stand against the rising tide of gun violence on America’s streets.

The company has established a “Safer Tomorrow Fund,” which is putting a $1 million toward nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence in America.

“We simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work,” wrote Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh in an op-ed piece for Fortune magazine. “While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”

Levi’s will also be partnering with Michael Bloomberg to form a coalition of business leaders to advocate for gun control.

But not everyone is supportive of the effort.

“Another multimillionaire has decided they want to invest millions of dollars of their fortune into taking away the rights of every day citizens,” said Craig DeLuz of the pro-2nd Amendment group ‘Firearms Policy Coalition.’ “Sounds like business as usual.”

KPIX talked with several people outside the Levi’s store on Market Street who say both Levi’s and Nike — with it’s new campaign featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — are taking a gamble for taking a stand on social issues.

“A lot of people are standing up for us and it’s a good thing,” one Levi’s customer said. “They’re jumping on board and I hope more companies jump on board.”

Another said she backed gun control.

“I like their stuff, number one,” she said. “Number two, I support gun control. I think we have a big problem. I’m not trying to take away people’s rights, but I think there needs to be stricter rules.”

Nike, meanwhile, unveiled a giant billboard this week featuring Kaepernick high above San Francisco’s Union Square. As a member of the 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice. The gesture spread to players on other teams who joined in, triggering a national debate including numerous tweets from President Donald Trump.

It also has gotten mixed reviews.

“We just thought it was a very brave, bold move,” Marin resident Kathleen Daly told KPIX 5.

But Melanie Underwood, visiting the Bay Area from Las Vegas, had a differing viewpoint.

“To kneel down for the American flag, the Star-Spangled Banner and then to play an American sport for an American League?” she said. “What are you doing here?”

While upset customers on social media are setting Nike merchandise on fire in the wake of the Kaepernick ads, there was been no backlash yet against Levi’s.