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Pussy Riot Get Buried Alive In “I Can’t Breathe,” Dedicated To Eric Garner

Ever since their jailing at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012, the band Pussy Riot has been a lightning rod for controversy. That status does not look likely to change with the release of the group’s new music video, the Eric Garner tribute, “I Can’t Breathe.”

“We’ve known, on our own skin, what police brutality feels like and we can’t be silent on this issue,” the band members have said in a statement. As such, they recorded “I Can’t Breathe” over the course of one long night back in December, when protests against police brutality raged across the country. Pussy Riot’s English-language debut has an industrial feel and an urgency that’s a bit of a departure from their previous work, and it was recorded with an assist from Richard Hell and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner. If the mere title of the song sounds inflammatory, the video is a visual Molotov.

The entire affair unfolds in one long, uncomfortable take that finds the two remaining band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, being buried alive. During a slow pan to a dirt pile, the camera passes over a pack of cigarettes that recalls the illegal-sale-item Eric Garner was reportedly killed over. Next we see the two women lying on their backs, wearing Russian army fatigues with insignia that reads ‘Homo,’ and it is not long before they are showered with dirt. To completion.


It’s an uncompromising vision that draws a direct parallel between the police politics of New York City and those the band experienced in Russia. Whether those fighting for justice for Eric Garner will appreciate this show of solidarity remains to be seen.

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