Eric Garner: US woman seeks to trademark 'I can't breathe'

Words have become rallying cry for thousands of protesters demonstrating in wake of deaths of black men Eric Garner and teenager Michael Brown

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A woman in the US is seeking to trademark the final remarks of a New York resident who gasped: “I can’t breathe.”

Catherine Crump, 57, from Waukegan, north of Michigan, petitioned the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register the last words of 43-year-old Michael Garner on hoodies and t-shirts for $325.

Mr Garner, who was arrested by New York City police in Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes, died after being placed in an illegal chokehold in July.

CCTV footage captured the scene and showed Mr Garner repeatedly cry out: “I can’t breath.”

LeBron James in his ‘I can’t breathe’ T-shirt

His death, and a grand jury’s decision not to prosecute NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, provoked widespread anger in the wake of a similar decision in Ferguson over the death of black teenager Michael Brown.

Protesters took to the streets, often wearing t-shirt or carrying placards emblazoned with what has become a rallying cry of the demonstrations.


Mrs Crump told the The Smoking Gun that she had “nothing to do with the Garner family” and had not spoken to them about her trademark bid.

She refused to confirm what reason she had behind her filing last Saturday, but claimed her purpose was not to make money and that she had been using the phrase commercial since 18 August.