Twin Cities teenager 'gives new voice' to Eric Garner through poem

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A teenage poet from the Twin Cities has "given a new voice" to the late Eric Garner through a poem that is bringing him national attention.

Jason Fotso, 17, of Maple Grove, composed his poem by rearranging the letters of the final words uttered by Garner, who was wrestled to the ground by police in New York and died following a chokehold administered by one officer.

The decision by a grand jury not to indict the officer who choked Garner sparked widespread demonstrations. Fotso, who is currently a freshman at Duke University in North Carolina, posted his own response through his Twitter account @voice at the weekend.

The post was retweeted 25,000 times and favorited by 26,000 people, and in the space of a few days he has gained almost 9,500 followers.

The opening of the poem features Garner's last recorded words, "I can't breathe," which has been one of the slogans used by those protesting against the recent spate of deaths of black people at the hands of police officers.

Fotso told the Guardian that he writes poetry that "aims to speak out against injustices," but that he had only started putting them on Twitter a little over a month ago.

In the past month he has also written about the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and even composed a piece about the #AlexFromTarget phenomenon that criticizes celebrity culture.

Fotso has been writing poetry since being a student in Maple Grove, the Guardian notes, and in June 2013 was one of four national finalists at the National Forensic League's Spoken-Word Poetry Competition in Birmingham, Alabama.

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