UNIONTOWN (KDKA/AP) – A Fayette Countyschool district is considering disciplining their girls’ basketball players for wearing T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe.”
The Uniontown High School girls’ basketball team is a pretty good squad known for prowess on the court.
However, something they did recently on the hardwood has sparked significant controversy.
The incident in question was captured in a photo. Members of the girls’ squad wearing black t-shirts in the pre-game shoot around, on the shirts the words “I Can’t Breathe.”
Those were the last words of Eric Garner, a New York man who died while being arrested and handcuffed by New York City police.
Garner’s last words are now a rallying cry for groups protesting what they consider police brutality.
Pro athletes like the NBA’s LeBron James and Kyrie Irving wore a similar shirt during a pre-game warmup.
Now, the Uniontown team’s choice to alter their uniform has drawn criticism of not being appropriate.
“I appreciate these young women doing what they did in the way they did. They were not burning up anything. They were not burning down anything. They had a statement to make and it did not cause any disruption at that game,” said Constance Parker, the president of Pittsburgh’s chapter of the NAACP.
KDKA has learned the shirts came from a member of the girls’ basketball booster club.
Several others in the crowd during that game also had the shirts on.
District sources tell KDKA they want to know why head coach Jason Winfrey let the squad take to floor in the shirts. The district declined any comment, saying the incident is under investigation.
“They put a t-shirt on, took it off when it was time to take it off. What occurred to cause a problem? I don’t know, but I do know a message got out,” said Parker.
Whatever the outcome, KDKA has learned the squad is no longer to wear anything other than the team issued uniform from here on in.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)