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Members of the Georgetown basketball team, wearing "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts, stand for the national anthem before an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas in Washington, Dec. 10, 2014.
Nick Wass—AP

A San Francisco Bay-area high school has banned another high school from sending teams to its basketball tournament over fears that players would wear shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe.”

“I Can’t Breathe,” the last words of Staten Island man Eric Garner, who died in an apparent police chokehold, has become the cry of a movement protesting the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police. Professional athletes, including basketball star LeBron James, have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in protest.

The boys basketball team from Mendocino High School was later allowed to rejoin the competition at Fort Bragg High School after players agreed not to wear the shirts, according to the Associated Press. The girls basketball team at Mendocino High School refused to agree to the terms.

The principal of Fort Bragg, Rebecca Walker, told the AP that shirts had been banned for safety reasons. She said she appreciated that the students were “paying attention to what is going on in the world around them.”


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