News & Politics

Georgetown Hoyas Wore "I Can’t Breathe" T-Shirts Wednesday Night

The team is the first college basketball squad to join the protest about police conduct.

Photograph courtesy Georgetown University.

Every member of the Georgetown men’s basketball team wore a T-shirt reading “I can’t breathe,” during warm-ups before Wednesday night’s game against Kansas, making the Hoyas the first college basketball team to join the on-court protests against the police killing of an unarmed black man in Staten Island, New York.

“I can’t breathe” is the last statement made by Eric Garner, a 42-year-old who died July 17 after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold. A coroner later determined he died due to neck compression and classified it as a homicide. Garner has been the subject of nationwide protests, including several in Washington, since last week when a grand jury declined to charge the police officer who subdued him.

The demonstrations spread to NBA courts last weekend when players including Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, and the entire Los Angeles Lakers roster started wearing warm-up shirts featuring reading “I can’t breathe.”

Georgetown coach John Thompson III said after last night’s 75-70 loss to Kansas that he and his players had been talking about it for a while.

“The emotions and feelings in the locker room are all over the place,” Thompson told ESPN. “Emotions [range] 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 across the country right now”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.