The Indianapolis Police Department walked back a Twitter post on Friday after being accused of making light of the death of Eric Garner, the Indianapolis Star reported.
The post was sent by a department spokesperson, Kendale Adams, in response to a protest in the city on Thursday night denouncing the lack of an indictment against the New York City police officer who choked Garner this past July, leading to his death.
“No actually communication with those involved was peaceful and appropriate but some opted for arrest by #choice,” Adams wrote, before adding the hashtag #WeCanBreathe. Adams was quickly criticized for misappropriating the tag #ICantBreathe. The hashtag, created using Garner’s last words, has become a rallying cry for demonstrations around the country criticizing the grand jury and police tactics.
The Star posted a screenshot of Adams’ tweet, which can be seen below:
According to the Star, two people were arrested during a local demonstration for refusing to move out of the street. But Adams’ remark was criticized online:
— Melvin Mccray (@SPIKEMEL25) December 5, 2014
— Timothy McCall (@timothycmccall) December 5, 2014
— Kyra Harvey (@kyrajisme) December 5, 2014
A local advocacy group, the Indy Feminists, said Adams’ use of the phrase undermined police chief Rick Hite’s appearance at a community forum hosted by the Star that same night concerning police work in communities of color.
— Indy Feminists (@IndyFeminists) December 5, 2014
Adams sent a follow-up tweet on Friday morning saying he deleted the offending statement:
— IMPD (@IMPD_News) December 5, 2014
He also told the Star that his statement about the arrests was taken out of context.
“Our intent was not what people are jumping on the bandwagon for,” he said. “Our issue has nothing to do with Eric Garner. As an African American officer why would I touch that issue?”
The Star also reported that some demonstrators made their way to its forum discussion and joined in the discussion. The department is expected to begin testing a body camera program this month, following a growing call for officers to wear them in the hopes of improving transparency regarding their interactions with the public.