LeBron James, Jemele Hill criticize Las Vegas Raiders 'I CAN BREATHE' tweet after Derek Chauvin verdict

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Moises Mendez II
·3 min read
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LeBron James (left), Jemele Hill (center), and Mark Davis (right)
LeBron James (left), Jemele Hill (center), and Mark Davis (right) Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images (left), Robin L Marshall/Getty Images (center), and Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images (right)
  • The Raiders tweeted "I CAN BREATHE" after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd.

  • The NFL team's tweet immediately faced backlash, with celebrities calling it insensitive.

  • LeBron James and journalist Jemele Hill were among the high-profile figures who reacted to the tweet.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Moments after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday, the Las Vegas Raiders posted a tweet reading, "I CAN BREATHE."

The tweet referenced "I can't breathe," the phrase Floyd said as Chauvin, who was a Minneapolis police officer at the time, knelt on his neck in the May 2020 killing. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Backlash to the NFL team's tweet immediately ensued, as many people called it insensitive and "tone deaf." Tweets also compared the reaction to Chauvin's guilty verdict to other statements that faced criticism online, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "thanking" Floyd for "sacrificing" himself.

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Floyd's 2020 death followed a worrying trend of police violence against Black Americans. While only seven officers have been convicted of murder since 2005, data shows at least 140 law-enforcement officers were "arrested on murder or manslaughter charges related to on-duty shootings in the US," according to CNN. 1,100 people were killed by police officers during 2020, 28% of whom were Black, per Mapping Police Violence.

Critics of the Raiders' tweet pointed out that Chauvin's guilty verdict does not reverse Floyd's killing or bring him back to life.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the tweet has over 45,000 likes, over 7,000 retweets, almost 32,000 comments, and 69,200 quote tweets - demonstrating the amount of direct engagement with the tweet.

LeBron James, the basketball legend currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, quoted the tweet and said, "This is real???? Nah man this ain't it at all. The F^%K!!!!"

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Many high-profile athletes echoed his statement, including former NBA player Jason Collins, who also quoted the tweet and asked the football team if they had any "black people on your comms, digital, pr, legal department."

Collins continued, "Did you run this by any of them before posting this tweet? Are they empowered to give an honest answer? Cause this ain't it. Nope. No sir. No, ma'am."

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Journalists Jemele Hill and Clay Travis also spoke out against the Raiders' controversial tweet. Hill concisely said "Da f--k?" and Travis asked how many people were involved in the publishing of the tweet. "I want the entire story here," Travis said.

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Mark Davis, the owner of the Raiders, took responsibility for the tweet. "That's my tweet. That was me," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Davis continued, "I don't want anyone in the organization taking heat. I take full responsibility for that. I was driving home from a meeting when the verdict came in. Soon after, I was listening to George Floyd's brother, Philonise, speak. And he said, 'Today, we are able to breathe again.' I took my lead from him. In my mind, that was all I needed to say, 'I can breathe.'"

Davis said he would not be apologizing for the tweet, which is still available on the Raiders' Twitter profile.

"It's rare I make statements about anything and if I thought it offended the (Floyd) family, I would feel very badly and apologize. Other than that, I'm not apologizing. I honesty believe after listening to Philonise, this is a day that we can all breathe," Davis said, according to the Review-Journal.

A representative for the Raiders did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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