Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, defended the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday after the NFL team drew viral backlash for tweeting "I can breathe" shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd's murder the day before.
“On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation’s ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for all. Now, more than ever, we must come together as one and continue on in this fight,” Philonise Floyd said in the statement.
“For the first time in almost a year, our family has taken a breath. And I know that goes for so many across the nation and globe, as well. Let’s take this breath together in honor of my big brother who couldn’t. Let’s do it for George,” he continued.
The Raiders' tweet, which alludes to George Floyd saying "I can't breathe" as Chauvin held his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes, had been roundly criticized on social media.
In a statement obtained by The Athletic’s Tashan Reed later on Tuesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis said the tweet was a reference to comments Philonise Floyd made earlier in the day after the verdict was announced.
“Today, we are able to breathe again,” Floyd had said.
“If I offended the family, then I'm deeply, deeply disappointed,” Davis said, adding that the tweet will not be taken down.
He also took sole responsibility for the tweet late Tuesday in another statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney, saying: “That's my tweet. That was me. I don't want anyone in the organization taking heat. I take full responsibility for that."