California Teacher Receives Death Threats Over 'I Can't Breathe' T-Shirt

A teacher in Los Angeles has received death threats after she wore an "I can't breathe" T-shirt during an online class, according to reports. The teacher, who is not being identified, said she has filed restraining orders against at least three men after being harassed "by the hundreds" over the T-shirt.

Speaking to CBS Los Angeles, the El Camino Real Charter High School teacher claimed one parent took an image of her wearing the T-shirt while teaching his daughter's class and shared it along with her email address and told people to harass her.

The teacher said that threats have also been made to her at her home, forcing her to seek shelter elsewhere.

"I can't afford to go to a hotel and I can't go home," the teacher said. "My daughter's a ninth-grader starting at this school. She wears a mask. We can't stay in our home."

The "I can't breathe" message was used by Black Lives Matter campaigners in the wake of the death of New York man Eric Garner in 2014. The message has gained extra significance for the movement following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd, who repeatedly said the words while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck in May.

Parent Scott Blodgett is one of the men who the teacher has filed a restraining order against, although he denies being the one who orchestrated the harassment campaign.

"I heard she was filing a restraining order. I couldn't tell you why it would be against me," Blodgett said.

He admitted that he was upset about the T-shirt and that the curriculum had been changed to teach children about racial unrest in the county.

"I just want my daughter to go to her English class and learn about English," he said.

Blodgett also denied that he tried to get the teacher fired or that he sent death threats to the teacher, calling the allegations "horrible."

An image of the teacher wearing the T-shirt was also shared by Twitter user @ElijahRiot.

"This is a LAUSD English teacher on a zoom call wearing an 'I can't breathe shirt' teaching her students about 'racial injustice & fixing the corrupt system'," the tweet said. "A concerned father reached out to me because his daughter was not being taught English in her online English class."

The post from August 16 has since been retweeted more than 1,600 times.

In a statement sent to the local community, David Hussey, executive director of El Camino Real Charter High School, said that the posts regarding the teacher's T-shirt created an "inimical atmosphere."

"ECR believes that all people are equal and that all voices should be heard, valued and included. Further, we believe that the varying experiences, perspectives of others, and the uniqueness of others' identities are what shapes and connects us in the school community and the world," the statement, provided to Newsweek, adds.

"We also recognize the need to end systemic racism that disproportionately harms, disciplines, and fails our Black students. Therefore, ECR is dedicated to racial justice within our education.

"Black Lives Matter at ECR is not a platform used for political gains. Yes, it's a movement, but more importantly it brings cultural awareness to the topics mentioned in the above paragraph and affirms the humanity of our students and communities.

"As a school, we support ECR teachers, staff, and students who speak up for those whose voices have been oppressed and pledge our commitment to moving beyond protest to action."

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(File photo) A man in a "I Can't Breathe" looks for a place to sit during a Juneteenth "Funk the Police" musical rally and protest against police brutality at Ronan Park in Boston, Massachusetts on June 19, 2020. A teacher in California claims she has received death threats after she wore a “I can’t breathe” t-shirt during an online class. JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty