NFL franchise the Las Vegas Raiders have been criticised after their official Twitter account shared a tweet reading ‘I Can Breathe’ following the announcement that police officer Derek Chauvin had been found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Chauvin was convicted on Tuesday of the death and manslaughter of Floyd last summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video footage of Chauvin kneeling down on the back of Floyd, who could be heard constantly saying ‘I can’t breathe’, lead to a worldwide racial injustice campaign with Floyd’s words being echoed in solidarity.
However, some felt the Raiders adopting Floyd’s words and reappropriating them in the wake of Chauvin’s conviction came across as incredibly tone-deaf and insensitive.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Las Vegas Raiders)
The owner of the team said the post will not be deleted and that it was inspired by Floyd’s brother, Philonise, who said following the verdict: ‘Today, we are able to breathe again.’ But many have highlighted the post’s inappropriate tone, even if the intentions were good.
This is real???? Nah man this ain’t it at all. The F^%K!!!! 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/f44D7OQWfo
The words have added connotations as in 2014 they were adopted by people who were supporting police in New York City following the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner who was placed in a chokehold by officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Speaking to ESPN, Raiders owner Mark Davis, who took responsibility for the tweet, said that the Raiders meant no disrespect to the Floyd family.
Davis added: “I felt that was a powerful statement. Today was a day where I can breathe, and we can all breathe again because justice was served. But we have a lot of work to do still on social justice and police brutality.”
Also speaking to The Athletic, Davis stated that the tweet would not be deleted but “If I offended the family, then I’m deeply, deeply disappointed.”