Nets players who wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts call for peace following police murders


BROOKLYN, N.Y. — On Saturday, December 20th, two police officers were shot and killed “execution-style” on the corner of Myrtle & Tompkins Ave at the Tompkins Houses in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, a stone’s throw from Barclays Center, shortly before gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley reportedly took his own life in the Myrtle-Willoughby subway station. The tragic scene unfolded with helicopters overhead and dozens of police officers on the ground, as captured in this video provided to the New York Post.

The Nets honored the fallen police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, with a moment of silence before Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.

A groundswell of anger from vocal conservative pundits & thinkers followed the murders on Myrtle Ave., arguing the protests in recent days provided an anti-police climate for retaliatory violence. The murders were, in the killer’s own words on his Instagram account (since deleted), a retaliation for the police killings of unarmed black men sans indictments across the country, notably Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Garner in Staten Island, New York.

On December 3rd, with King LeBron James, Prince William, and Princess Kate in the arena and protestors outside, four Nets players and two Cavaliers — James and fellow all-star Kyrie Irving — wore shirts donning the phrase “I Can’t Breathe,” which were Garner’s last words as recorded on tape before he was killed by “the compression of [Garner’s] chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” according to the coroner.

Nets guard Jarrett Jack became a central figure in the national protests, supplying the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts (through his agency) for James and Irving to wear, aiding the league’s most prominent star in making a profound political statement with the world watching.

James wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirt Dec. 3. (AP)
James wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirt Dec. 3. (AP)
Jack asked for peace in the community, denouncing Brinsley’s actions.

“I would hope that nobody would want to take that stance, because violence just begets more violence,” Jack told The Brooklyn Game Sunday afternoon. “We just want to have a peaceful protest. Not causing or stirring up any more drama, but objectively and peacefully trying to find a solution to something that everybody is due, which is proper policing and due process.”

Jack said he received no threats or attacks after wearing the shirt. Nor did his teammate Alan Anderson (tweet above), who wore the same shirt.

“Anytime killing’s involved on any parts, it’s a bad situation,” Anderson told The Brooklyn Game. “Whatever decision’s made, I hope it’s the right one.”

“I’m not the person to judge what’s right or wrong, but just all the killing is — you’ve only got one life to live, so if we can avoid that any way possible, that’s the best way to me.”

Jack expressed hope that in time, cooler heads would prevail.

“I hope everybody, even though you’re angry, it doesn’t turn into a thing such as (more death).”