The Indianapolis Police found itself in hot water after sending out a tweet using the hashtag #WeCanBreathe on Thursday, which seemed to be mocking the death of the Staten Island man, Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Following Garner’s death, the phrase “We can’t breathe” became the latest slogan for protesters who were pushing for justice.
Garner told officers he couldn’t breathe 11 times before he fell unconscious.
Protests swept across the nation after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer in Garner’s death only days after another grand jury failed to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Many of these protests, including one in Indianapolis, resulted in numerous arrests being made.
One user on Twitter, Joi Barnett, complained about the arrest of peaceful protesters, which prompted the controversial response from the police department in Indianapolis.
“No actually communication with those involved was peaceful and appropriate but some opted for arrest by #choice #WeCanBreathe,” the twitter account for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, @IMPD_News, responded.
Less than 24 hours later, users caught sight of the tweet and slammed the department as “stupid” and disrespectful for sending out the “distasteful” tweet.
“IMPD thought it would be funny to tweet #wecanbreathe in their rebuttal to a tweet,” one user tweeted. “How stupid could Yall be.”
Another user said the tweet was “horribly distasteful” and accused the department of “mocking Eric Garner.”
“Totally disgusted at how @IMPD_News responded to @ajoitobeme with #WeCanBreathe,” another user said. “You don’t mock a community for holding you accountable!”
The department quickly deleted the tweet after the backlash began to pour in and addressed the criticisms on Twitter.
“We were attempted [sic] to localize the issue of peaceful protestors in #Indy and not mock national events,” the department tweeted. “We have taken it down #LocalIssue.”
The IndyStar, which also captured a screenshot of the tweet before it was removed by the department, informed users that the department had apologized via Twitter but many users didn’t think it was enough.
“We don’t accept,” Barnett said in response to news of the department’s so-called apology.
Kendale Adams, the public information officer who wrote the tweet, talked to The Star and while he addressed the backlash, he still did not actually apologize for the tweet or acknowledge any wrongdoing.
Instead he accused those who were upset of “jumping on the bandwagon” and insisted that as a Black man he would never “touch” the issue of Garner’s death – which is a problematic statement on its own.
“Our intent was not what people are jumping on the bandwagon for,” he told The Star. “Our issue has nothing to do with Eric Garner. As an African-American officer, why would I touch that issue?”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Garner’s death has been mocked.
It’s only been a few days since a couple appeared behind a reporter who was on the air live and mocked Garner’s death.
The husband placed his wife in a faux chokehold as she pretended to be choking on camera.
The reporter was unaware of the shameful act taking place behind her but it sparked outrage on social media.
Many users slammed the couple for their insensitive act and many explained that situations like this are exactly why there is “much work to be done.”
“A black man’s death is funny to this white couple. sure they aren’t the only 1s,” one user tweeted before following up with another tweet that read,” there is so much work to be done.”