NFL Players Wear Eric Garner 'I Can't Breathe' Slogan

A week after five St Louis Rams players courted controversy by making politically charged gestures before a game, three NFL players wore “I can’t breathe” messages on their clothing on Sunday.

The players followed the example of a basketball star, after the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose wore the “I can’t breathe” message on his t-shirt during warmups before Saturday night’s home NBA game against the Golden State Warriors.

On Sunday, the Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush and Cleveland Brownscornerback Johnson Bademosi warmed up in shirts bearing the message. The Rams offensive lineman Davin Joseph wore the message on his cleats.

The “I can’t breathe” slogan has been widely used to protest a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man who was put in a chokehold during an attempted arrest. Garner’s arrest was filmed by a bystander.

Following the grand jury’s decision, which was released on Wednesday, New York and other US cities experienced widespread protests, leading to arrests and, in some cases, violence between demonstrators. On Saturday night, windows were broken and arrests made in Berkeley, California.

The New York demonstrations entered their fifth day on Sunday, as mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on national television to refuse to endorse the grand jury decision and double down on controversial comments about how he has told his own son to behave around police officers.

Last weekend, five Rams players made “Hands up, don’t shoot” gestures as they ran out for a game at the Edward Jones Dome, in reference to protests over the August death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The St Louis Police Officers Association subsequently claimed that officers found the actions of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Tre Mason “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory”, and demanded that they be disciplined.

Arguments subsequently broke out over whether the Rams organisation had apoligised to police.

Last Sunday, the Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, a St Louis native, played with “RIP Mike Brown” written on one of his shoes during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

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