Just because professional athletes can wear “I can’t breathe” shirts doesn’t mean boys' and girls' on varsity basketball teams at a Northern California high school will be permitted to do so. Players from Mendocino High School were disinvited to tournament hosted at Fort Bragg High School out of fear the Mendocino team would wear the shirts at warm-ups before the game, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The boys’ team was eventually allowed to play after all the athletes except one agreed not to wear the shirts, but the girls’ team wasn’t able to garner enough players.
The slogan, echoed by Eric Garner supporters, was banned as a safety precaution. “We applaud Mendocino basketball players for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them and being willing to take a position that is in line with their beliefs,” Fort Bragg Principal Rebecca Walker said a written statement on the Fort Bragg Advocate-News Facebook page Friday. “We simply feel this issue is too emotionally charged to allow such a demonstration to happen in our tournament and be able to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved.”
The post was liked dozens of times and earned more than 50 comments. Users discussed whether or not politically charged statements should be made on school grounds. The comments varied, ranging from people who “[disagreed] entirely” to people who applauded the principal’s decision.
The students had worn shirts bearing the words in the past without flack. " I didn't even know what it meant," girls’ Coach Caedyn Feehan told the AP. "I thought it was a joke about how I had conditioned them so hard."
“I can’t breathe” protests were held after a New York grand jury failed to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the white police officer who put Garner, an unarmed black man, in a choke hold that ultimately led to his untimely death.
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