'I Can't Breathe' Profiteering: Someone Is Trying to Trademark Eric Garner's Last Words

Should anyone be making cash off one of the most painful moments in recent American history, without regard for the victim's family?

(Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Dec 19, 2014· 0 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

There are things we own and there are things we profit from.

And those should probably be two separate things if there's any warning to be found in the case of an Illinois woman who wants to trademark the dying words of Eric Garner, who said, "I can't breathe," 11 times while in an NYPD officer's choke hold before he died. A grand jury there decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death earlier this month.

In a petition to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Catherine Crump is asking to register the phrase so she can profit by selling hoodies and T-shirts printed with it. If her request is approved, others who produce "I Can't Breathe" clothing would have to pay her for licensing and royalties. She declined to comment to a Chicago Tribune reporter who knocked on her door at home.

The phrase has been tweeted more than a million times since Garner died and has appeared on the clothing of professional athletes and protesters alike—it has become a rallying call for a movement that is vocal about police brutality and unnecessary aggression from law enforcement.
Crump told The Smoking Gun that she has been using the phrase commercially since at least Aug. 18, about one month after the Staten Island man died, and she has "nothing to do with the Garner family."

Seems like it should be obvious, but maybe someone should tell her that phrase has everything to do with the Garner family.