An Indiana police officer has irked several in his South Bend community with a T-shirt he’s selling that touts a take-off slogan of the “I Can’t Breathe” mantra that followed New York suspect Eric Garner’s death — “Breathe Easy: Don’t Break the Law.”
The aim of the shirt’s message is to say “police are there for you,” the South Bend uniform store owned by Mishawaka Police Cpl. Jason Barthel said in a statement, the New York Daily News reported.
The South Bend Uniform Co., the maker of the T-shirt, put out a statement: “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. Let’s all band together as AMERICANS regardless of our feelings and know we can and will be better! Thank you for your support.”
But not all are taking it that way.
“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,” South Bend District Council President Oliver Davis told the Daily News Tuesday.
Mr. Davis is now calling for those stores that sell the T-shirt to pull it from their shelves. And the Rev. Terrell Jackson, of the South Bend NAACP, has joined the call, too, the newspaper reported.
“I Can’t Breathe” took off across the nation as a rally cry of those upset by the police chokehold of Garner on the streets of New York. An hour later, Garner died at the hospital.