NBA Stars Can’t Breathe
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The Los Angeles Lakers advertised they can’t breathe this weekend during their game against the Sacramento Kings, and it has nothing to do with basketball. They chose this saying not because their coach is working them too hard, but to honor the life of Eric Garner.
On July 17, 2014 NYPD officers approached Garner on suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. After Garner told the police that he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes, the officers attempted to arrest him. When Daniel Pantaleo tried to take Garner’s wrist behind his back, he pulled his arms away. Pantaleo then put his arm around Garner’s neck and took him down onto the ground. After Pantaleo removed his arm from Garner’s neck, he pushed the side of Garner’s face into the ground while four officers moved to restrain Garner. He repeated “I can’t breathe” eleven times while lying facedown on the sidewalk.
After Garner lost consciousness, officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing. Garner remained lying on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive. The officers and EMTs did not perform CPR on Garner at the scene; according to a spokesman for the PBA, this was because they believed that Garner was breathing and that it would be improper to perform CPR on someone who was still breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital approximately one hour later.
The problems the public feels should be addressed are: Garner was not given a standard American, “Innocent until proven guilty” trial. Instead the officers inhumanly acted out of suspicion. But that is not the focus of the campaign. Carlos Boozer said, “We are not ‘promoting criminals,’ we’re promoting humanity. We can treat each other better, regardless of what the situation is.” Stories like this are happening more frequently in our society. However, Jason Whitlock, reported that, “There is no widespread epidemic of cops shooting and/or killing unarmed black men. That’s a false flag waved by the uninformed, the lazy and the crowd that needs Ebola and ISIS and disappearing airplanes for traction. Police killing unarmed men of any color is a man-bites-dog tragedy. It’s rare, which is what makes the occurrence so television titillating. Of course, every instance is one too many, and as a society we should do everything we can to prevent it.”
Most people feel that instead of these lost lives becoming symbols for future change, they have been a media distraction. J.A. Andande, ESPN Senior Writer, reported that he feels these shirts are steering the conversation in the right direction.
The biggest names in the NBA are exemplifying his claims in the responses they give to the media. When asked if he believed the shirts were effective, Lebron James said, “It doesn’t really matter…It’s more of a shout out to the family, more than anything, because they’re the ones that should be getting all the energy and effort.” Other interviews have common themes of remembering lost lives, recognizing families and promoting public policies that need to be addressed.