The Raiders received backlash for a tweet sent out from the team’s official account Tuesday following the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. A jury found the former Minneapolis police officer, who was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Once the ruling was announced, sports leagues and teams released statements regarding the case as well as systemic racism and social injustice in the country. Las Vegas was among that group, but criticism immediately began flooding in after the team shared a graphic with the phrase “I can breathe.”
Floyd could be seen on video saying “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Many Twitter users ripped the Raiders for sending out a disrespectful, tone-deaf tweet. Others noted that the phrase “I can breathe” was previously used in pro-police protests in New York following the 2014 killing of Eric Garner.
But Floyd’s brother Philonise wasn’t a part of that negative response. He issued a statement of support for the Raiders on Wednesday:
On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation’s ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for all. Now, more than ever, we must come together as one and continue on in this fight. For the first time in almost a year, our family has taken a breath. And I know that goes for so many across the nation and globe, as well. Let’s take this breath together in honor of my big brother who couldn’t. Let’s do it for George.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told The Athletic’s Tashan Reed on Tuesday that the wording of the tweet was inspired by Philonise Floyd, who said after the guilty verdict, “Today, we are able to breathe again.” Davis was not aware of the connection between police supporters and “I can breathe.”
Despite calls to delete the tweet, Davis said he had no plans to take it down.
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