Speed Reads

The police state

Indiana policeman sparks outrage with 'Breathe easy' shirts

Mishawaka Police Cpl. Jason Barthel is selling shirts that bear the words "Breathe easy, don't break the law" — a reference to the "I can't breathe" T-shirts that were made to protest Eric Garner's chokehold death at the hands of the NYPD.

Barthel, who owns the South Bend Uniform company, says the shirt's message is meant to convey that "police are there for you."

(South Bend Uniform Company)

The New York Daily News reports that local city council members think the shirt's message is "dangerous," and "argue that it appears more like a threat of police taking justice into their own hands."

South Bend District Council President Oliver Davis and members of the NAACP are calling for the shirt to be pulled from the shelves. "We believe that people should be able to breathe easy no matter what they're doing. Police should not take the right to breathe into their own hands," Davis said.

Barthel defended himself in a statement: "We are all one people and this is by no means a slam on Eric Garner or his family, God rest his soul. Let's all band together as AMERICANS regardless of our feelings and know we can and will be better!"

Barthel said he has sold more than 100 shirts online.