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I Can’t Breathe: Russian Group Pussy Riot Releases Tribute Song for Eric Garner

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Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot released a new music video Wednesday to pay homage to Eric Garner, the man who was inadvertently killed last summer after being put in a chokehold by New York City police officers.

While “I Cant Breathe” has become a popular protest mantra stateside, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, both of whom just spent nearly two years in a Russian prison, are capitalizing on an American controversy by inserting themselves into the mix, and in routine punk rock fashion, are bringing the angst.

Their first time recording in English, the song, aptly titled “I Can’t Breathe,” features the duo donning blue Russian police uniforms, laying in a freshly dug grave, as dirt is synchronously thrown on them to a slow and steady beat.

“He’s become his death, the spark of the riots, that’s the way he’s blessed, to stay alive,” the song begins, with a chorus of, “It’s getting dark in New York City… I need to catch my breath.”

The song then ends with a voiceover artist emotionally reading Garner’s last recorded words, which were caught on camera.

“Illegal violence in the name of the state kills not only its victims, but those who are chosen to carry out these actions,” Pussy Riot told BuzzFeed through an email statement. “Policemen, soldiers, agents, they become hostages and are buried with those they kill, both figuratively and literally.”

“This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror — killed, choked, perished because of war and state-sponsored violence of all kinds — for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change,” the women said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

While the song is at times hard to follow, as English is not the ladies’ first language, “I Can’t Breathe” does feature a catchy industrial drumbeat. So, if you’re not into Russian punk rock music, or protest mottos, there’s always that.

Follow Kipp Jones on Twitter @kipjones


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