July 27, 2021

Byron Williams said ‘I can’t breathe’ 17 times as police restrained him. Why did few protest his death?

Jeffery Thompkins stood at a community rally with thousands of protesters this month, listening as they chanted, “I can’t breathe.”

They were shouting the last words of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 with an officer’s knee on his neck. Floyd’s final moments were captured on video by a bystander.

Thompkins, 32, said he closed his eyes, holding back tears. He had heard the words before, nearly nine months earlier. But the voice he heard back then belonged to Byron Lee Williams, his mother’s fiancé.

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