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A South African bank has apologized “unreseveredly” after comparing regulatory hurdles to the plight of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in an illegal chokehold by a New York police officer.
In a research note entitled “I can’t breathe”—the same words Garner said repeatedly before he died—Investec analyst Ian Gordon discussed the “arguably disproportionate” regulatory scrutiny being placed on bank Standard Charted, reports Reuters. A more “explicit” comparison to Garner was also removed prior to the note’s approval.
Gordon has defended the note, telling British paper City A.M. that he “was drawing parallels between racial prejudice by U.S. authorities and StanChart’s regulatory challenges—StanChart’s position in terms of the over-discriminatory fines, politically motivated by one U.S. regulator.”
However, New York financial regulator Ben Lawsky condemned the comparison as “terrible”—prompting Investec to apologize.
“Invested apologizes unreservedly for the inappropriate content in this morning’s research note on Standard Chartered and for any offence caused,” the bank said. “The content in question does not represent the views of Investec.”
The death of Eric Garner and other unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers has sparked outrage in the U.S. in recent months over perceived unaccountability of law enforcement and institutionalized racism, with ongoing protests held nationwide and across the globe.
Garner’s last words—“I can’t breathe”—have taken on special significance as a protest chant and rallying cry for activists.
Rob Price is a technology and politics reporter who served as the U.K.-based morning editor for the Daily Dot until 2014. He now works as the news editor for Business Insider, and his work has appeared in Vice, Slate, the Washington Post, and the Independent.