An online petition is calling to keep the message of “Please, I can’t breathe” on a Belgian SCNB train, in honour of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer put his knee on his neck for minutes in the United States.
The sentence was written on the train without the knowledge of the railway company. In an initial reaction on Saturday, the company said it would “remove the graffiti as soon as possible,” according to Dimitri Temmerman, who said that it could not “let a train that is daubed like that run around like this.”
Images of the train went viral, and were widely shared, including by politicians.
On its Twitter account, SNCB said it understands that “certain events arouse strong emotions which transcend borders” and that “some people want to express their support by sending strong messages,” but that “tagging a train is not an acceptable solution.”
Making one’s voice heard should not come at the cost of material degradation, according to the company. “A tagged train has a significant impact on the comfort of our passengers, for example by obscuring visibility through windows,” they said. “So it is an act of vandalism, no matter what the message or the emotion behind it,” they added.
Certain events arouse strong emotion which transcends borders. While we understand that some people want to express their support sending strong messages, tagging a train isn’t an acceptable solution. Making one’s voice heard should not come at the cost of material degradation.
— SNCB (@SNCB) May 31, 2020
Meanwhile, an online petition has been launched to ask SNCB not to erase the graffiti for “at least the next 100 days,” and “that the perpetrators will not be traced.”
“Because we and the whole world are outraged by the tragic death of George Floyd and the racist police violence against black people,” the initiators of the petition said. “Because we know that institutional racism is spreading to our societies far beyond the United States, because this tag represents a peaceful, just and proportionate response,” they said, adding that it is “a universal reminder of the tragedy that affects us and pays a legitimate tribute to a man who was unjustly murdered.”
The Brussels Times