One week after players for the St. Louis Rams made the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture before a game, more professional football players have joined the silent protest. Following a New York grand jury's decision not to bring charges against the police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed African-American man, several NFL players wore Garner's last words, "I can't breathe," on their clothing and gear on Sunday. The silent yet powerful shows of solidarity came a day after NBA player Derrick Rose donned an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during pregame warm-ups.
Like Rose, Detroit Lions player Reggie Bush took to the field before the team's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday with a visual show of support for Eric Garner and his family. Bush wore a blue shirt with the words, "I can't breathe" written across the front in black marker.
According to Lions coach Jim Caldwell, Bush didn't seek his permission to wear the protest shirt, but Caldwell approved of the message it sent to NFL fans. The Lions coach told reporters after Sunday's game:
I'd be a hypocrite if I stood up here and told you any differently because more than likely some of those protests that Dr. King and some of the others that took part in, non-violent protests, is the reason why I'm standing in front of you today. Absolutely, no question about it, I don't mind it.
Bush, whose father was a police officer in San Diego, said the deaths of Eric Garner and 18-year-old Michael Brown "really affected" him, and his anger has built up over the last few weeks. He told MLive.com on Sunday:
I've always been the kid who is reserved and stays out of stuff like that, but I just felt like these last couple weeks, I've been really upset about what's happening from a police standpoint. ... I don't really have an answer why it affected me so much. It just did, to see that. It's just really unfortunate, and so I thought that would be my way of protesting a little bit.
Cleveland Browns player Johnson Bademosi also took the field for pregame warm-ups on Sunday wearing Garner's last words. Meanwhile, St. Louis Rams player Davin Joseph took to Twitter before his game on Sunday to post a picture of his cleat, on which he wrote "I can't breathe" along the side.
There were also some more shows of "hands up, don't shoot" in football stadiums on Sunday. During the Washington Redskins game against the Rams, Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker made the symbolic "hands up" gesture after completing a sack. Baker confirmed to reporters after the game that the gesture was deliberate and a sign of protest. Later, Baker posted about the brief moment on his Instagram account, using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
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