The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department appeared to make a huge public-relations blunder last week in a tweet that used the hashtag #WeCanBreathe. That hashtag is a variant of the phrase “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner, an African American man who was fatally strangled by New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo.
After a New York grand jury elected not to indict Pantaleo last week, the words “I can’t breathe” inspired both a protest chant and a Twitter hashtag campaign around which online activists have rallied.
In response to criticism from a community member about department behavior, Indianapolis police sent out out the following tweet, which was captured by the Indianapolis Star.
The use of the #WeCanBreathe hashtag unsurprisingly sparked a firestorm of criticism on Twitter.
— Michelle (@mmwlawtaos1) December 6, 2014
— Lapsed Catholic (@atheyst) December 5, 2014
— Hillary was right! (@AprilStearns) December 6, 2014
The department deleted the tweet shortly after the online backlash and sent out a second, apologetic message.
— IMPD (@IMPDnews) December 5, 2014
“We don’t have a doctorate in Twitter,” Kendale Adams, the African American police officer who composed the tweet, told the Star. “We’re learning. That was a learning opportunity. We apologize.”
H/T RT | Photo by Thomas Altfather Good/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)