Supporters of the New York Police Department marched in the streets Friday night wearing black hoodies with the phrase “I can breathe, thanks to the NYPD.” The rally came as protesting continues over the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
Mr. Garner’s supporters have used his last statement, “I can’t breathe,” as a mantra against police brutality and racial bias in the justice system. A grand jury decided Dec. 3 against indicting officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July 17 death of Mr. Garner.
Roughly 100 people protested outside City Hall in New York City on Friday night wearing the controversial customized sweatshirts, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
The NYPD supporters shouted “Don’t resist arrest!” at a group of nearly 200 counter-protesters.
The latest pro-police apparel comes after another controversial clothing designed by an Indiana police officer sparked outrage on social media.
The shirts, produced by Corporal Jason Barthel of the City of Mishawaka Police in Indiana, bear the slogan “Breathe Easy: Don’t break the law” and were sold for $7.95 online.
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Mr. Barthel, who also owns and operates the South Bend Uniform Company, wrote on the company’s Facebook page that outrage sparked by the t-shirts was misplaced.
“For those upset, please understand when we use the slogan ‘Breathe Easy’ we are referring to knowing the police are there for you!” Mr. Barthel wrote.
“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 percent of us have the greater good in our hearts each time we strap on our uniforms and duty belts,” Mr. Barthel continued.
“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! Thank you for your support.”
The “I can’t breathe” slogan has spread rapidly among protesters and several celebrities, including basketball star LeBron James.
In an interview published Friday, President Obama told People magazine that the basketball player “did the right thing” by wearing the shirt during warm-ups for a December 8 NBA game.