NEW YORK (Reuters) - Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot released their first song in English on Wednesday, a musical tribute to Eric Garner, the unarmed black man whose death in a police chokehold last summer sparked wide protests against police violence.
Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina recorded the song, “I Can’t Breathe,” in New York last December after a grand jury decided not to indict a white New York City police officer in Garner’s death.
The pair said they dedicated their first song in English to Garner and titled it, “I can’t breathe,’ which were the words he repeated before his death.
“This song is for Eric and all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror - killed, chocked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds,” they said in a statement.
In the video released on YouTube the singers, shown wearing Russian riot police uniforms, are slowly buried alive as soil is shoveled on them.
The song begins with the lyrics, “He’s become his death/The spark of the riots/That’s the way he’s blessed/To stay alive,” and ends with punk pioneer Richard Hell reading Garner’s final words.
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted of hooliganism motivated by religion following a “punk prayer” protest in 2012 against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.
Their arrest and nearly two-year prison sentence sparked a global outcry. They were released in 2013 after Putin granted them amnesty.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and David Gregorio