A petition launched online to maintain the graffiti “Please, i can’t breathe”, produced in homage to George Floyd on an SNCB train, unbeknownst to the railway company, has already collected several thousand signatures. If it says it understands the emotion aroused, SNCB deplores an act of “vandalism”.
George Floyd is a 46-year-old African American who died dramatically after his arrest on Monday in Minneapolis. The arresting white police officer, Derek Chauvin, meanwhile arrested and charged with manslaughter, pressed his knee to George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. “Please, I can’t breathe“(Please, i can’t breathe) were the last words of George Floyd, whose death sparked worldwide outrage and violent riots in several cities in the United States.
In Belgium, the side of an SNCB train was covered with a huge graffiti “Please, i can’t breathe” in white letters on a black background. Photos of the train have been shared on the web in Belgium, including by politicians, and abroad.
On its Twitter account, SNCB says it understands that “certain events arouse a strong emotion which transcends borders” and “some people want to express their support by sending strong messages“but the company says that”tagging a train is not an acceptable solution“.
Making someone’s voice heard should not be at the cost of degrading the equipment, the railway company still believes, which stresses the negative consequences on the comfort of train passengers, whose visibility is reduced by the graffiti covering the windows. “It is therefore an act of vandalism, whatever the message or the emotion behind it.“, concludes SNCB.
A petition has been launched to ask SNCB not to have the graffiti erased “at least for the next 100 days“, and”that their authors are not wanted“.”Because with the whole planet we are revolted by the tragic death of George Floyd and by racist police violence against blacks; Because we know that institutional racism is plaguing our societies far beyond the United States; Because this tag represents a pacifist, fair and proportionate reaction; Because it constitutes a universal reminder of the drama that affects us and that it pays a legitimate tribute to a man unjustly murdered, to whom millions of people discriminated against around the world recognize themselves in pain and revolt“, justify in particular the initiators of the petition. By 4.30pm Sunday, the petition had already collected more than 3,500 signatures.