In today’s you don’t get to do that news…South Bend Uniform, a law enforcement company in Mishawaka, Indiana has designed a T-shirt that says, “Breathe Easy, Don’t Break The Law.” “This is intended to be a uniting and positive thing, not to divide,” South Bend Uniform’s owner and Mishawaka Police Corporal Jason Barthel said.
Typically, this shirt would be innocent and not offensive at all, however, because Staten Island slain man Eric Garner’s last words were, “I can’t breathe,” as he was being held in a prohibited chokehold by NYPD Daniel Pantaleo. Those last three words have become a rallying cry for outraged protestors who believe justice wasn’t served because Pantaleo was never indicted.
In a Facebook post,insists that the shirt’s message is one of unity. And he added:
“For those upset, please understand when we use the slogan ‘Breathe Easy’ we are referring to knowing the police are there for you! We are one people, one nation regardless of race, religion, creed or gender. We are all in this together. The police are here to protect and serve. 99.9% of us have the greater good in our hearts each time we strap on our uniforms and duty belts. We are all one people and this is by no means is a slam on Eric Garner or his family, God rest his soul. Lets all band together as AMERICANS regardless of our feelings and know we can and will be better!”
Luckily, someone at the South Bend District has some sense; Council President Oliver Davis spoke out and told the Daily News Tuesday, “We believe that people should be able to breathe easy no matter what they’re doing. Police should not take the right to breathe into their own hands.” Davis is now calling for stores to not sell the T-shirts with fellow council members Valerie Schey and Henry Davis Jr., as well as the Rev. Terrell Jackson of the South Bend NAACP.
Many celebrities and Garner supporters have been wearing T-shirts with Garner’s last words on them, “I Can’t Breathe,” in support of the protestors efforts to find justice for not only Garner’s family, but the families of Black men in America who are being killed by police. Critics slammed the celebrities for wearing the shirts, claiming it made them anti-police, however, many of them feel it was only in support of the family and not going against law enforcement.
Many critics are calling the T-shirt’s message “pro-police,” but because of the language chosen–“breathe,” we’re left wondering if this shirt is actually anti-people? The insensitivity it takes someone to twist a phrase that are someone’s last agonizing words and make it into something that connotes that people die because they “break the law” is disheartening.
What do you think of this shirt beauties? Sound off in the comments below.