Thoughtful Illinois Woman Seeks Trademark for 'I Can't Breathe'


The Smoking Gun reports that 57-year-old Catherine Crump of Waukegan, Il. has filed a trademark petition with the US Patent and Trademark Office to register Eric Garner’s last words for use on “Clothing, namely hoodies, t-shirts for men, women, boys, girls and infants.”

Though “I Can’t Breathe” has become a prominent, nationwide rallying cry against racialized police brutality, Crump claims that she’s been using the phrase commercially “at least as early” as August 18th, which—as Eric Garner died repeating that phrase on camera one month earlier while NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo maintained his chokehold—is not really claiming anything.

From the Smoking Gun:

In an interview, Crump said that she had “nothing to do with the Garner family,” and had not spoken to them about her trademark bid. While claiming that her purpose for marketing “I can’t breathe” garments was not to make money, she declined to disclose what other reason there was for her trademark filing (which cost $325).

For reference, here’s Crump’s textual inspiration: Garner’s last words as transcribed by CNN.

Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me (garbled) Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me….. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.

Well then. See you in hell, Crump!

Photo via AP.

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