Almost a year after the death of George Floyd, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by a jury on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. It was one of the biggest stories of the year, and many in the sports world reacted to the news. The Las Vegas Raiders were among the NFL teams that decided to send out a message.
Unfortunately, the message wasn’t well received. Thousands of accounts called out the team, saying the post, which read, “I CAN BREATHE 4-20-21,” was a misguided message. Even Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James weighed in with disbelief.
The “I Can Breathe” mantra has been used before but not in the way the Raiders were likely hoping. According to Snopes, the saying was used by NYPD supporters to mock protesters after the death of Eric Garner in 2014. His death made the mantra “I Can’t Breathe” a rallying cry against police brutality.
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Mark Davis Was Not Aware of the Mantra Being Used Before
When Al Davis was in charge of the Raiders, the team was always viewed as one of the most progressive franchises. They hired the first minority coach in the NFL, Tom Flores, and then hired the second Black NFL head coach in Art Shell. Davis also hired Amy Trask as the NFL’s first female CEO.
Mark Davis has yet to make any of those types of trailblazing moves but there’s no doubt he meant well by posting the “I Can Breathe” tweet. He told Tashan Reed of The Athletic that he was not aware of the saying being used in the past.
“Let me say this right off the bat: I was not aware of that,” Davis said Tuesday after the tweet was posted. “Absolutely not. I had no idea of that. That’s a situation that I was not aware of. I can see where there could be some negativity towards what I said based on that.”
Davis told Reed that the inspiration for the tweet came from George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, who said after Chauvin’s guilty verdict, “Today, we are able to breathe again.”
“I took it from him saying that, and that’s exactly what my feelings were,” Davis said. “I don’t know who it offended. Obviously, if those T-shirts are out there and they thought that that’s what I was referring to, that’s a very big misconception and I made a huge mistake in that regard.
“I wasn’t watching the talking heads; I was listening to the [Floyd] family. And I was trying to take my lead from them. But if that’s what the cops are wearing then, really, it is a bad statement.”
Davis Won’t Take the Tweet Down
Despite Davis acknowledging the fact that the tweet was “bad,” he made it very clear that he has no intention of deleting the tweet.
“I will not delete it,” Davis told The Athletic. “I could unpin it and let it run its course. It’s already out there. That’s the risk you take any time you put anything on Twitter: It’s out there for life. Because people are retweeting it and keeping it and doing all that stuff with it. … I rarely, rarely post stuff, but I’m not into erasing something. It’s not an apology. I’m not embarrassed by what I said, but I did learn something new. So, I learned something. I learned that cops were wearing T-shirts saying that. And that’s a negative.”