Walmart’s 'I can't breathe' ad forced off air after Eric Garner protests

Walmart’s 'I can't breathe' ad forced off air after Eric Garner protests
Waves of protests over the chokehold death of Eric Garner by the NYPD are forcing a major US business to adapt, with Walmart taking down and changing a commercial after people said it was insensitive for featuring the phrase, "I can't breathe.”

Those words, of course, were Garner’s last before he died during a confrontation with police that escalated over the sale of untaxed cigarettes in Staten Island.

The Walmart TV-ad for T-mobile, which the consumer giant retails in its stores, features an African American father and daughter. When the girl hugs her dad really hard, he jokingly and joyfully says, "I can't breathe."

The seemingly innocent and affectionate story of a black man giving his daughter a cellphone could not have come at a worse time, however, as thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to protest police brutality in the wake of recent grand jury decisions and deaths of unarmed African Americans. Eric Garner – a father of six and grandfather of two – was killed via chokehold by an NYPD officer in July, and this week a grand jury declined to indict the officer responsible despite video evidence.

There have also been large demonstrations following the lack of indictment in the case of Michael Brown from Ferguson, Missouri, who was shot six times by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August. Additionally, the recent death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed in Cleveland in November after police mistook his toy gun for a real one, have added more fuel to the cause.

In fact, that phrase has become a protest cry as in the footage of July 17 fatal accident showed police taking Garner to the ground with the chokehold. In the video, Garner says “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he suffers from cardiac arrest and dies.

Walmart, meanwhile, responded in a tweet saying it can see how the ad could be viewed differently today than when it first aired, and promised to revise it.

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In response to Walmart’s commercial, US viewers noted that the phrase "I can't breathe” reminds them Garner.

In fact, that phrase has become a protest cry as in the footage of July 17 fatal accident showed police taking Garner to the ground with the chokehold. In the video, Garner says “I can’t breathe” multiple times before he suffers from cardiac arrest and dies.

Walmart, meanwhile, responded in a tweet saying it can see how the ad could be viewed differently today than when it first aired, and promised to revise it.