Top 15 Athlete Protests in Tribute to Eric Garner

On July 17th, Eric Garner was suspected by New York Police Department officer Justin Damico of selling loose cigarettes from packs without a tax stamp. Most members of society would agree this minor offense is something that police should not be enforcing with much enthusiasm, but Officer Damico decided to detain Garner after he asked repeatedly to stop being harassed. At this point, Officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Garner from behind and wrestled him to the ground into a prone position after repeatedly wrenching Garner’s neck with a headlock or choke hold.

The technique used is now heavily debated, but Garner died one an hour later from injuries suffered on the concrete sidewalk of his Staten Island neighborhood. He suffered for minutes on the pavement while officers failed to administer even basic first aid for a distressed breathing victim. Officer Pantaleo strolled around the sidewalk in the background for several minutes while other officers searched Garners pockets, waiting for paramedics to arrive. CPR was not started for at least 7 minutes following the incident and four EMTs that responded to the scene were suspended shortly after the incident.

Protests in New York City began almost immediately with Broadway actors protesting in Times Square. Damico and Pantaleo were placed on desk duty and Pantaleo was later forced to turn in his badge and gun. A grand jury was convened to hear evidence to determine whether Officer Pantaleo would be charged with a crime. Despite the death being ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner, Pantaleo was not indicted with any crime on December 3rd. This lack of indictment sparked outrage across the nation, prompting protests on the heels of the Michael Brown grand jury acquittal, and leading to many Americans asking questions about the actions of police officers. Many athletes joined the debate to make their support for Eric Garner known over the past week. Here are some of those athletes:

15 Amar’e Stoudemire

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

14 Deon Long


13 Davin Joseph


12 Johnson Bademosi


11 Sheldon Richardson

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

10 Melvin Ingram


9 Kevin Garnett


8 Kyrie Irving

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

7 Georgetown Hoyas

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

6 Reggie Bush


5 Deron Williams


4 Jim Caldwell

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

3 Kobe Bryant and the Lakers

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2 Derrick Rose

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

1 LeBron James

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James chose the perfect opportunity to wear an “I can’t breathe” shirt in full attention of the international media in attendance for his game against the Brooklyn Nets. James wore the shirt during the visit of Prince William and his wife Kate, taking advantage of the extra media in attendance. When asked about the protest he said, “It's just for us to make a [statement] to understand what we're going through as a society, I've been quoted over and over about what's going on as far as it's more of a notion to the family, more than anything. Obviously, as a society we have to do better. We have to be better for one another. It doesn't matter what race you are.”

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Top 15 Athlete Protests in Tribute to Eric Garner