George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, released a statement on Wednesday saying that he supported the Las Vegas Raiders organization in the wake of Mark Davis’ Tuesday night tweet that read: “I can breathe.”
“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,” Philonise Floyd said, according to ESPN.
“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,” Philonise Floyd said.
In the aftermath of the verdicts announced in the George Floyd murder case on Tuesday in Minnesota against former police officer Derek Chauvin, sports teams and leagues have jumped into the fray to offer statements in support of the guilty verdicts.
The Las Vegas Raiders went a different route, taking a pithy slogan that was meant to reference Floyd’s dying words “I can’t breathe” by turning it into something else?
The Raiders received pelters for their “I can breathe” statement, which appeared to try and spark a triumphant tone that accountability prevailed in this case, but ended up sounding glib and insensitive in reference to the man who was murdered.
While many waited for the Raiders to hastily erase the tweet, as often happens in situations like these, it turned out team owner Mark Davis claims “full responsibility” for the controversial tweet.
Just spoke with Raiders owner Mark Davis: "That's my tweet. That was me. I don't want anyone in the organization taking heat. I take full responsibility for that."— Ed Graney (@edgraney) April 21, 2021
Story coming soon on the reason for the tweet and Davis' thoughts on today's verdict at https://t.co/bxwBcPsbQs
In addition, Davis said he was trying to use the words Floyd’s brother Philonise used in a press conference after the verdict on Tuesday. Furthermore, he has no plans to erase the tweet.
#Raiders owner Mark Davis said the "I Can Breathe" wording came from George Floyd's brother Philonise, who said "Today, we are able to breathe again."— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) April 21, 2021
Davis added: "If I offended the family, then I'm deeply, deeply disappointed."
He also said the post won't be deleted.
But Davis also said he was not aware that the words “I can breathe” have been used mockingly by some white people in response to Black people killed by police in the past.
Davis said he wasn't aware that NYPD supporters wore "I Can Breathe" shirts following the 2014 killing of Eric Garner. After I brought that up to him he said, "I learned something... I have to do a little bit more research into that just so I can speak coherently on that aspect."— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) April 21, 2021
And as a result, Davis said he understood that the slogan sounded less celebrating a just verdict in a single case and to many, rather tone-deaf in a broader context.
More from Davis: "Let me say this right off the bat: I was not aware of that. 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."— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) April 21, 2021
It’s worth noting that the Davis family, including Mark, and the Raiders have a long history of racial progressivism in comparison to the rest of the NFL. Mark Davis was one of the first people in a position of power in the league to support Black Lives Matter and has steadfastly supported efforts to promote racial equality, including financially.
But in this case, the owner tried to offer his support and it fell flat, something he has acknowledged. It certainly happens, but hopefully everyone can learn from the experience.