An Illinois woman is seeking to trademark the last words of a dying New York City man who was killed during an encounter with police.
43-year-old Eric Garner died when an NYPD officer placed him an illegal chokehold during detainment. His last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
In a December 13 application, Catherine Crump petitioned the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the phrase for use on hoodies and t-shirts for men, women, boys, girls, and infants.
The 57-year-old Crump, who lives in Waukegan, a city 40 miles north of Chicago, contends that she has been using “I can’t breathe” for commercial purposes since “at least as early” as August 18, one month after Eric Garner, 43, died following a confrontation with police on Staten Island.
A video of the encounter captured Garner repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe” as Officer Daniel Pantaleo wrapped his arm around the 350-pound suspect’s neck. Other officers sought to pin Garner to the sidewalk so he could be handcuffed. A Staten Island grand jury earlier this month declined to indict Pantaleo in connection with Garner’s death.
During nationwide marches, participants have chanted “I can’t breathe” as part of protests against police brutality.
In an interview, Crump said she had “nothing to do with the Garner family,” and had not talked to them about her trademark bid. She says her purpose for marketing wasn’t to make money, but did not say what her reason for the filing was.
Three other entrepreneurs have filed to trademark the phrase “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” for use. Each of those applications was filed within three weeks of the August 9 death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was fatally wounded by former Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.
What do you think of these people seeking to patent the words of a dying man?
Is it disrespectful to not just the family members of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, but to the entire civil rights movement that is currently taking place?
Sound off below!