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Yes, pro-police demonstrators in US wore ‘I can breathe’ T-shirts in 2014

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed in police custody on 25 May 2020 after a white officer in the US city of Minneapolis pinned him to the ground and kneeled on his neck for several minutes.

The killing has been condemned worldwide, including on social media in South Africa.

In a distressing video showing the officer kneeling on his neck, Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying: “I can’t breathe.”

On 29 May a South African Facebook user posted a photo of three white men in T-shirts bearing the words “I can breathe.” One of them is holding a sign that reads: “NYPD Police Department. For all you do, we thank you!” The NYPD is the police department in the US city of New York.

The post was flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Is the photo genuine?


Pro-police demonstration after Eric Garner death

The photo was taken on 20 December 2014 at a demonstration by about 100 NYPD supporters outside New York’s city hall. A video of the protest shows a number of them wearing the “I can breathe” T-shirts.

In July 2014 Eric Garner, also a black man, died from a chokehold and the compression of his chest by NYPD officers. In a video of Garner’s arrest, he can also be heard saying: “I can’t breathe.”

Many protested Garner's death by wearing T-shirts that read: “I can’t breathe.” – Mary Alexander



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