The brother of George Floyd thanked the Las Vegas Raiders for their support after owner Mark Davis issued a statement on Twitter that drew backlash following the conviction of a police officer who killed Floyd.
Philonise Floyd issued a statement through the family's attorney on Wednesday, a day after the tweet sent on the team’s official account saying “I CAN BREATHE 4-20-21.”
George Floyd told officers “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times before he was killed when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck last May. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday for causing Floyd’s death.
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“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. "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.”
The tweet from the Raiders drew backlash on Twitter. The phrase “I can breathe” was used by supporters of police in New York after the death of Eric Garner in 2014. Davis said he wouldn’t have used that phrase if he knew the history but chose not to delete the tweet.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I feel bad it was taken in a way it wasn’t meant to be done. That can only be my fault for not explaining it.”
Davis said he was driving when the verdict was announced and heard Floyd's brother, Philonise, make the statement that “we can all breathe again” and decided to make that message the team's response.
“I thought that said a lot,” Davis said. “It said a lot about everything. I thought it was something where we could all breathe again. Justice was served. We still have a lot of work to do on social justice and police brutality. But today, justice was served.”
The tweet was widely condemned in replies on Twitter but remained pinned to the top of the team's Twitter account until Wednesday morning.
“It was taken negatively by 99% of the people,” Davis said. “That happens. That's part of social media.”