The Las Vegas Raiders are facing backlash over a tweet after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. The former police officer was convicted of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
Soon after the verdict was read, the Raiders tweeted the words “I can breathe,” followed by the date. Team owner Mark Davis took responsibility for the tweet’s origins, CBS Las Vegas affiliate KLAS reports.
Davis said he was inspired by Floyd’s brother, Philonise, who said something similar on Tuesday. “Today, we are able to breathe again because justice for George means freedom for all,” Philonise said.
The tweet faced swift backlash, with Lebron James and others voicing their displeasure.
This is real???? Nah man this ain’t it at all. The F^%K!!!! 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/f44D7OQWfo
Do you have black people on your comms, digital, pr, legal department? Did you run this by any of them before posting this tweet? Are they empowered to give an honest answer? Cause this ain’t it. Nope. No sir. No ma’am. https://t.co/gAmqG3Uf68
Hire Black creatives. https://t.co/dXUA3jVYzi
Many felt that the words “I can breathe” were insensitive. Floyd, 46, was heard saying “I can’t breathe” as Chauvin kneeled on his neck on May 25, 2020 for more than nine minutes, ultimately killing him.
“I can’t breathe” was also used as a rallying cry during protests in the wake of Eric Garner’s death from a chokehold administered by a police officer in New York City in 2014. “I can breathe” was used as a slogan for pro-police demonstrations at the time.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Davis said he would apologize only if he offended Floyd’s family. “It’s rare I make statements about anything,” Davis told the newspaper, “and if I thought it offended the family, I would feel very badly and apologize. Other than that, I’m not apologizing. I honesty believe, after listening to Philonise, this is a day that we can all breathe.”
The National Football League faced similar backlash on Tuesday after issuing a statement many considered tone deaf in the wake of the Chauvin verdict because of the league’s treatment of players who have protested in the past against police violence.
Colin Kaepernick, who first led kneeling protests during the national anthem in 2016 to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice, remains unsigned despite a record that included a Super Bowl appearance with the San Francisco 49ers. In a statement last year, Kaepernick called out the NFL for “blackballing” safety Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick in protesting police violence, but has yet to be signed by any team.
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