While he couldn't attend any of the protests that continue to sweep the nation following the grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner, one NBA player found another way to demonstrate his support without saying a word. Before last night's game, Chicago Bulls player Derrick Rose wore an "I Can't Breathe" shirt.
Rose wore the shirt in memory of Garner during warm-ups before the Bulls versus Golden State Warriors game on Saturday night, Sports Illustrated reports. The phrase "I Can't Breathe" references Garner's last words, directed at the NYPD officer who had him in a chokehold. Though the officer testified that he heard his plea, which Garner repeated 11 times, video of the struggle shows that Daniel Pantaleo didn't adjust the pressure on Garner's neck. This chokehold is what led to Garner's death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. Since the jury's failure to indict Pantaleo, "I Can't Breathe" has become a symbol of the protests, similar to how Michael Brown's last words have defined the Ferguson protests. Unlike Ferguson, the protests surrounding Garner's death had been largely peaceful up until the recent violence that erupted during demonstrations in Berkeley, but public opinion is, as always, divided on the issue.
The social media response to Rose's support of Garner has been generally positive, with most applauding his display of solidarity.
His teammates were also supportive of his decision, ABC 7 reports. So far, Rose himself has not spoken to the media about the protests. Though Rose is not the only athlete to show solidarity with protesting police shootings, there is no denying his decision to publicly honor Garner made a strong statement.