Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hoyas don ‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-shirts in support of Garner family

Georgetown players take the court wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner before tipoff against Kansas on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 at Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Garner, an unarmed black man died after being choked by a New York city police officer who was not indicted in a recent grand jury decision.

Georgetown players take the court wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts in support of the family of Eric Garner before tipoff against Kansas on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 at Verizon Center in Washington D.C. Garner, an unarmed black man died after being choked by a New York city police officer who was not indicted in a recent grand jury decision.


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Brannen Greene and Kelly Oubre discuss victory at Georgetown

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— The Georgetown basketball players, to a man, wore, “I Can’t Breathe,” T-shirts during warmups and the national anthem before Wednesday night’s 75-70 loss to Kansas University.

Hoyas senior center Joshua Smith explained that they did so to support the family of Eric Garner, who died in New York City after a policeman put him in a choke hold while arresting him for selling loose cigarettes. Garner’s last words were, “I Can’t Breathe.” Georgetown’s T-shirts were worn one week after a New York grand jury decided not to indict the police officer, which led to a number of NBA players wearing similar T-shirts.

“We didn’t wear the shirts to say that the cops were wrong or that the system was wrong, we just wore the shirts to show our condolences to the family,” Josh Smith said after totaling 20 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. “Because no matter who you look at it, we don’t know who was right or wrong, but they still lost somebody and they won’t get that person back, so that was the main reason we wanted to wear the shirts, just to say we’re aware of what’s going on.

“We’re not choosing sides. We’re not saying who was right or who was wrong. We’re just looking out for the family because they’re the most important people right now in this whole thing, because with all the protests going on, they lost somebody.”

Teammate D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera added: “There were a variety of reasons we wanted to wear the shirts. There were quite a few families that lost their loved one ...with the Mike Brown case and Trayvon Martin also. We really wanted to represent all those families and send our condolences that way.”

Georgetown coach John Thompson III said the entire team watched the verdict in the Ferguson, Missouri, case in which Brown died after being shot by a police officer in an August 9 incident and the grand jury decided not to charge the officer. Since then, Thompson said, he has had several conversations with his team.

“I thought they wanted to do it the other day and I thought it was important before you jump out there, we had several conversations about what’s going on and what does it mean and why do you want to go out there,” Thompson said.

Thompson stressed that the players did not wear the T-shirts to start a trend.

“The emotions and the feelings in the locker room are all over the place, meaning it’s not necessarily everyone feels the same way,” Thompson said. “The emotions are from fear to frustration to confusion to anger and the reasons why every individual wanted to wear it is all over the place, too, which is probably pretty consistent with the emotions and the feelings across the country right now. I think the group wanted to possibly put ourselves in a position to be a part of a process to help where there is positive change as opposed to just negative reactions.”

When a reporter started a question by saying that his father, John Thompson, never hesitated to make a statement, the Hall of Fame coach, who was standing in the back of the room, joined the conversation.

“What did he say?” Thompson the father said.

The reporter repeated what he had asked and Thompson the father weighed in with his deep, strong voice.

“This is a (expletive) school, man,” the former Georgetown coach said. “That’s your responsibility to deal with things like that. This is not a ... damn pro team.”

More news and notes from Kansas at Georgetown

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 75-70 at Georgetown

By the Numbers: Kansas wins 75-70 at Georgetown


Brad Farha 6 years, 10 months ago

Great article Tom -- thanks for covering this.

Kristen Downing 6 years, 10 months ago

What would happen if a white player wore a shirt that said, I support my local police officers?

Walter Bridges 6 years, 10 months ago

Smith College President apologized for saying 'all lives matter'... I don't get it.

I really thought the election of Pres. Obama would be significant and positive for race relations... I don't get it.

I just broke my own rule about talking politics here and hopefully not offending anyone... Let's talk about a great game to watch.

Noah Ball 6 years, 10 months ago

They would appear to support injustice at a racially sensitive time. I think it would really fly in Kansas, though!

Micky Baker 6 years, 10 months ago

It might be insensitive for Obama to give lectures about how white people are "privileged". Do you feel privileged? How many white basketball players does Georgetown have? In that light they were hypocritical. But, the case in NYC was the police going too far over a few cents per loosie that NY would lose in tax revenues. If they hadn't run the jobs out of NYC, they guy wouldn't have to resort to selling that. He wasn't a violent criminal.

Severeno Woods 6 years, 10 months ago

How would you like if was you getting choked Fred? How would your family like this situation if g you lost your life due to an improper technique? A pretty dumb comment by you.

Bryan Anderson 6 years, 10 months ago

Let me translate what Fred actually means: Pants up = Don't be black. don't resist = Don't be black.

Cameron Cederlind 6 years, 10 months ago

But if you are black, make sure you have lots and lots of money.

Jeff Schartz 6 years, 10 months ago

I think what Fred meant, but, was fairly tactless, was "don't break the law, and you avoid police confrontation."

Eliott Reeder 6 years, 10 months ago

Hmmm, let me guess, you're a white guy, right? I know this because of your obviously privileged perspective. The whole point is that there are very different responses by police, the courts, and society in general when Black folks break the law vs when White people break the law. This is fact.

Jeff Schartz 6 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for throwing race into it Elliot. I believe that I said "don't break the law..." You're last name is Reeder, you'd think you would be better at it....

Jerry Becker 6 years, 10 months ago

Where is the outrage and protest for all the soldiers who have given their lives for this country?

Ron Prichard 6 years, 10 months ago

So people can't protest more than one thing? One injustice that isn't in the spotlight right now means another injustice can't be in the spotlight? How about the genocide in Africa? How about the illegal sex trade? How about any number of other problems around the world and the US? If we don't protest all of those injustices can we protest and show outrage for any other injustice?

Walter Bridges 6 years, 10 months ago

The press covers only what they believe to be the most controversial and seem to purposely fan the flames regardless of the consequences. Not saying the recent police/black (or any segment of society) confrontations aren't important, they are as the obvious feelings of mistrust run so deep but there is a responsible way to do so.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm outraged they were sent there in the first place. So are lots of other people.

Walter Bridges 6 years, 10 months ago

Not much choice as a store owner reported a crime but how it escalated to anything more than a warning is what bothers me.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 10 months ago

Good thing for the Jayhawks that the Hoyas were more focused on making political statements than they were on beating us.

Forrest Ranjer 6 years, 10 months ago

Jeff Schartz, Garner died at the hands of a militarized force for selling a commodity and supposedly avoiding a tax that's at a much higher rate than my forefathers started and fought a revolution for. He was not a robbery suspect. Punch a cop and you should expect to possibly get shot. An immediate death sentence for selling cigarettes is a bit excessive.

Jerry Becker, I agree. We have sent tens of thousands of young men to their deaths in conflicts and wars that had nothing to do with freedom, but certainly were driven by greed and two-sided corporate and political welfare. Those boys should have never died. I'm guessing that every year you take full advantage of the rule that allows you to file your taxes under protest and you share your sentiments with the IRS and your government representatives. Anything less would be hypocrisy.

I agree with the senior Thompson. Now is the time for these young men to learn to stand up. I may not agree with them any of the time or only some of the time, but we need young people with backbones. These are the kids who we may need to rely upon to fight for our freedom some day. By accepting and expressing their thoughts and opinions now, they may better understand the rights my family fought for.

Ron Prichard 6 years, 10 months ago

The best comment on this thread so far, and it's not even close. Excellent post, Forrest.

It's not about whether you and I agree, but it is about learning about the issues and standing up for what you believe, as long as you do so peacefully.

These kids go to school to learn and grow as young adults. I have no problem with the shirts, even if I disagree with their position.

James Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

I can't say that he received a death sentence...that is wasn't even a choke hold...anyone out there smart in submissions, please confirm that that was not a choke...I am positive it was very uncomfortable, because he was cranking hard on it, but the technique was all wrong for a choke. His horrible state of well being contributed greatly...what the police did would not kill 99.999% of people...I don't think that it would be reasonable for the cop to conclude that someone sickly and deathly weak would resist arrest...he did what his training told him to do...nothing racial. If there is a problem, it is with the system, because the cop did what his training tells him to do. Sorry if you can't see this! Oh by the way...I am not white and I probably grew up poorer than anyone here, but the only thing that matters is the truth!

Jeff Schartz 6 years, 10 months ago

I'll say it again, because you seem to be missing my point. "Don't break the law, and you avoid police confrontation." It is simple. Both Eric Garner, and Mike Brown knew that they were in conflict of some type of law. If they hadn't been in violation, none of this would have happened. There can be no argument to that.

Joe Ross 6 years, 10 months ago

There CAN be an argument to that. Both of those men could have done what they did and the outcome could still have been different. The fact that there is a confrontation between law enforcement and suspects does not (should not?) mean that an outcome of death is predetermined. You are ignoring the response of law enforcement as a variable in the outcome. In essence, one may ask the fair question of whether the punishment fits the crime. Morever, your perspective assumes that law enforcement is just and acts justly all the time. Profiling, harassment, and abuse happen quite often when they are unwarranted. I understand your point to a certain degree, however. There is no arguing that criminality in general and, because I am African American I can say this, black criminality in particular is a problem. Martin Luther King in the early 60s visited St. Louis and spoke to a black audience declaring that they were 60% of the crime and 10% of the population. He said that we have to do something about the moral failure in our own community. And that is absolutely true. So what is the proper perspective? Both law enforcement and various communities within society need to correct their bad behavior. Problems exist in both places.

DaNeille Dani Davis 6 years, 10 months ago

This kind of action does not belong in college sports. I hope Bill doesn't allow it.

Ron Prichard 6 years, 10 months ago

You're so right. It is absolutely abhorrent that young men at an institution of higher learning are discussing social issues and current events and then using their position of influence at that institution to express their opinion. I mean seriously, why do we want young adults to have a voice in today's world? I want it the way it was, with my sports kept in a vacuum and completely segregated from reality and social issues. I wish Tommie Smith and John Carlos never would have raised their fists. I wish the Clippers hadn't worn their jersies inside out. I wish athletes never expressed their opinions so things would stay they way they have always been.

John Williams 6 years, 10 months ago

Freedom of speech should be valued. There is nothing wrong here, in my opinion, to support something u believe in. Not everyone is always going to agree on what avenue is taken to express one's personal views. I personally cannot understand why a mans life has to be taken over something so harmless as selling cigarettes. I certainly don't have all the facts, but I also cannot comprehend how there isn't an indightment. But one thing I do know is where there is controversy, there will be expressions of belief and values no matter whose they are.

Robert Robinson 6 years, 10 months ago

Hhhh... I hate arguing about this via the internet, but, anyone who thinks these cops killed these people because they are black are just ignorant. Its the hot story, that's all. Like Obama said, good TV. The news providers are too chicken to show the other side where white people are killed by cops too. There are a multiple ways to fix this... Don't break the law, don't resist arrest, don't argue, don't show aggression, don't provoke cops.... Any one of those things will keep you safe. That easy

Joe Joseph 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm withholding my own personal opinions on this matter, but did want to say:

Good for John Thompson III and Georgetown University for allowing the basketball team to make a statement. JTIII or the University could have easily nixed it to avoid any sort of fall out or PR outcray. There is far too much censorship in college athletics. These kids are, in fact, adults and are too often not allowed the same freedoms as adults (sometimes for obvious reasons).

Good on them.

Michael Leiker 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Joe, I thought that was about as well handled as you could handle something like that by Coach Thompson and very well put in terms of folks differing view points and opinions on the situations. Nice to see coaches using this as a learning opportunity for these young guys.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 10 months ago

What I find disturbing is how divided we are along racial lines. If this incident had taken place in a country with a less than commendable human rights record it would receive universal condemnation.

David Lara 6 years, 10 months ago

Before I say anything on the matter, I just want to recognize how glad I am to have Bill Self as our head coach. Take a stab at what he might say when approached with this very situation:

Player X: Coach, we want to show support for Eric Garner's family. We aren't choosing sides, we don't want to say who is right or wrong. We just want to honor them and send them our condolences. And what better way to do that than by wearing t-shirts that display the final, panic-stricken words of the loved one that they just lost?

Michael Leiker 6 years, 10 months ago

Thinking he might say..."not an expletive chance"...

Russ McCaig 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh, I thought the shirts were for Josh Smith...cuz about every 3 minutes he was struggling to get off the court....

So over the shirts...don't think they, or any athlete/individual, should deviate from the NCAA/university approved uniform. Okay to wear on own time, but not in that setting...

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