In protest of a New York grand jury’s decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the choking death of Eric Garner, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt before Monday’s game against the Nets in Brooklyn. Cavs teammate Kyrie Irving joined James and several Nets players in wearing similar shirts.
Nets guard Jarrett Jack provided the shirts to James and Irving, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
“It’s more a notion to the family than anything,” James said of the shirts. “Obviously as a society we have to do better, we have to be better for one another. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s more of a shout out to the family more than anything. They’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.”
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt during pregame warm-ups prior to Saturday’s home game against the Golden State Warriors. When asked Monday morning by the Daily News about his fellow former NBA MVP’s attire, James said, “It was spectacular. I loved it. I’m looking for one.”
Jack made sure he got one. This isn’t the first time James has taken a stand on racial issues. In 2012, he posted a photo to Instagram of his Miami Heat wearing hooded sweatshirts in solidarity over the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Last year, James also coordinated Miami’s decision to wear warm-up shirts inside-out in protest of then L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks.
Following the Ferguson ruling, James posted on his Instagram account a drawing of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin walking arm in arm. “As a society how do we do better and stop things like this happening time after time!! I’m so sorry to these families,” the caption read. “Violence is not the answer people. Retaliation isn’t the solution as well. #PrayersUpToTheFamilies #WeHaveToDoBetter.”
Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton are were reportedly scheduled to attend Monday’s Cavs-Nets game at the Barclays Center, where protesters staged a die-in on Thursday night, so LeBron’s statement could have a global reach.
Video of the incident shows Garner, an African-American, repeating the phrase, “I can’t breathe,” numerous times after the Italian-American police officer placed him in a chokehold in an attempt to make an arrest for the alleged sale of untaxed cigarettes. The grand jury’s decision ignited protests across the country — as did a similar ruling in the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown by a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer last month — and athletes have been at the forefront of activism efforts.
Several NFL players, including St. Louis Rams guard Davin Joseph, made similar gestures on Sunday.
(h/t Washington Post)