Walmart pulled a TV ad Thursday morning after complaints that the commercial insensitively recalled the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold.
The ad, for a Walmart-branded cell phone plan powered by T-Mobile, shows a black man giving his daughter a cellphone. To thank him, the daughter affectionately wraps her arm around his neck and starts taking selfies while the dad mutters, "I can't breathe."
The ad seems pretty innocuous, but "I can't breathe" were Garner's last words after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold while arresting him for allegedly selling loose cigarettes in July. On Wednesday, a grand jury on Staten Island declined to indict Pantaleo, setting off a wave of protests across the country. "I can't breathe" has become a rallying cry for many of those demonstrations.
A viewer tweeted at Walmart after seeing the ad during NBC's "The Voice" Wednesday night.
— Walmart Newsroom (@WalmartNewsroom) December 4, 2014
Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman, told The Huffington Post that the ad began airing over the summer, but she was unsure whether that was before or after Garner's death. The ad was in circulation until Thursday morning, when the company removed it in response to tweets complaining about the ad.