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Andersonville Shop Owner Apologizes For 'I Can Breathe' Shirt

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jan 8, 2016 9:00PM

Photo via Facebook.
The owner of Piatto Pronto, a sandwich shop in Andersonville, regrets wearing the shirt on the right, which many on social media are calling racist and tasteless after a photo made the rounds online.

"I apologize," owner Mike told Chicagoist. (He declined to give his last name.) "I really, really apologize. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart... Did I sleep last night? No."

The photo, which Mike confirms is a photo of him, surfaced on Facebook on Wednesday. The shirt reads "I can breathe. I obey the law."

The message is a reference to the death of Eric Garner, who famously gasped "I can't breathe" before he died in an illegal chokehold at the hands of New York police officers.

"I wasn't even thinking about that," Mike said of the Eric Garner case. "I swear to my mother's grave."

Mike, who is originally from Morocco and told Chicagoist he is black, added, "I was not thinking. I wake up in the morning, I wear it... I feel like an idiot."

"It's a free country," he continued. "I got the right to wear whatever I want to wear... [but] I don't want to offend anybody."

He said he spoke to a customer who was offended by the T-shirt for 20 or 30 minutes on the phone last night.

"I explained to him, I am wrong," Mike said.

Social media users vehemently agree. In the last few days, Piatto Pronto's Yelp and Facebook have been flooded with one-star reviews, citing the shirt's racist message.

Tasteless shirt behind the counter! Guy in the "I can breathe shirt" was unnecessarily offensive.

Posted by Mohale Matsapola on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The owner posting the photo with I Can Breathe shirt is in poor taste and very insensitive. Do better.

Posted by James Sims III on Friday, January 8, 2016

We are neighbors and I had been a loyal costumer, but after seeing the racist "I can breath" crap, I will never go here again -- and I will tell others not to.

Posted by Joy Ell on Friday, January 8, 2016

There are similar reviews popping up on Yelp.

Mae Rice contributed reporting to this story