The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department appeared to make a huge public-relations blunder last week in a tweet that used the hashtag #WeCanBreathe. That hashtag is a variant of the phrase "I can't breathe," the last words of Eric Garner, an African American man who was fatally strangled by New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo.
After a New York grand jury elected not to indict Pantaleo last week, the words "I can't breathe" inspired both a protest chant and a Twitter hashtag campaign around which online activists have rallied.
In response to criticism from a community member about department behavior, Indianapolis police sent out out the following tweet, which was captured by the Indianapolis Star.The use of the #WeCanBreathe hashtag unsurprisingly sparked a firestorm of criticism on Twitter. The department deleted the tweet shortly after the online backlash and sent out a second, apologetic message. "We don't have a doctorate in Twitter," Kendale Adams, the African American police officer who composed the tweet, told the Star. "We're learning. That was a learning opportunity. We apologize."