Nickelodeon aired eight minutes and 46 seconds with the message “I CAN’T BREATHE” in white letters emblazoned across a black screen. The message’s length matches the purported amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
The ViacomCBS-owned channel that caters mostly to children and teenagers went off-air with the video message’s text pulsated rhythmically in tandem with sound a person breathing. The video included a countdown timer as a header, counting down seconds and beginning at 8:46.
The video’s footer reads, “Join @colorofchange and countless others to call on public officials across the country to take real action. Text DEMANDS to 55156.”
Color of Change describes itself as “an online racial justice organization” advancing “a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.” One of its founders is CNN’s Van Jones.
Chris McCarthy, the president of entertainment and youth brands at ViacomCBS’s, shared the following message with the company’s employees:
The last few weeks have brought to the surface long standing racism, videos of unspeakable behavior and the harsh reality of inequality many in our community deal with on a regular and daily basis. In Minneapolis, the horrifying murder of George Floyd, in Georgia the senseless killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and in Kentucky, the deplorable shooting of Breonna Taylor, to name just a few recent examples. This is on top of a pandemic which has emphasized the tragic inequalities that disproportionately impact communities of color, especially African American and Latinx communities, in addition to the unjust targeting of Asian Americans.
ViacomCBS aligned itself with Black Lives Matter, with its other channels and networks, including NTV, VH1, and Comedy Central, airing the same message.
— ViacomCBS (@ViacomCBS) May 31, 2020
At 5 p.m. today, many of our #ViacomCBS brands went dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to commemorate victims of police brutality, like #GeorgeFloyd. We stand united against racism, discrimination, and senseless violence. #BlackLivesMatter
— ViacomCBS (@ViacomCBS) June 1, 2020
Tomorrow, for #BlackOutTuesday, #ViacomCBS will be on pause as we reflect on recent events. Our focus will shift from building business to building community, moving from conversation to action, and sparking real change in the fight against racial injustice. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/AyAgwGqJFm
— ViacomCBS (@ViacomCBS) June 2, 2020
ViacomCBS’s website hid its content and only shared the following message on Tuesday:
Our Business Is On Pause Today.
At ViacomCBS, we are committed to fostering diversity and inclusion. We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, creators, partners and audiences and condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and senseless violence.
In honor of Blackout Tuesday, today we are encouraging our employees to shift their focus from building our business to building community.
Nickelodeon shared the following messages on Instagram. “We stand in solidarity with out black colleagues, creators, partners, and audiences and condemn all acts of racism, discrimination, and senseless acts of violence.”
Protests, demonstrations, and riots took place in metropolitan cities after Floyd’s death, involving organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.