'Please, I can't breathe' tag poses safety issue, says Belgian Rail

'Please, I can't breathe' tag poses safety issue, says Belgian Rail
Credit: Bernard De Vos

A popular graffiti tag honouring George Floyd will be removed from a Belgian train as the operator believes it poses a significant safety issue, regardless of the outcome of an ongoing petition to save it.

Despite over 7,000 signatures on a change.org petition, SNCB has said that the mural of Floyd's last words - "Please, I can't breathe" - which appeared on the side of a train will have to be removed because it prevents passengers from seeing through the train window.

"The rule is that we always remove graffiti as quickly as possible, which we will do in this case as well," Bart Crols, spokesperson for SNCB, told The Brussels Times. "We want to stress that we certainly understand the displeasure and anger that reigns regarding what happened in the United States, but there are other ways to express your opinion or displeasure," he added.

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"Apart from the damage to the train, this particularly affects our passengers and their safety," Crols said, adding that the graffiti makes it so that it is impossible to see outside when you are on board. "You cannot look outside to see where you are," he said.

On Sunday, supporters launched an online petition asking the company to keep the tag, as it was “a universal reminder of the tragedy that affects us and pays a legitimate tribute to a man who was unjustly murdered.”

The message was sprayed on an IC-train on the connection between Kortrijk and Welkenraedt. "It is an important connection that crosses the entire country," Crols said, adding that the train stops in stations like Brussels, Leuven and Ghent.

It is unclear at this time when exactly the tag will be removed, only that it will be removed soon as the longer it is on the harder it is to take off, said Crols.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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