It speaks volumes about America's systemic problems as the country convulses with protests that the words "I can't breathe" are now attached to two infamous killings of black men, six years apart.
George Floyd in Minneapolis last Tuesday uttered the same words as Eric Garner in 2014 as a white police officer pressed his knee against the Minnesota man's neck for an agonisingly long eight minutes.
Like Floyd, New Yorker Garner also died in police custody after being put in a chokehold. Both were suspected of minor offences.
Those filmed deaths joined a tragic gallery of black lives lost when often everyday moments were met by deadly police or private force – among them Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
The Black Lives Matter movement was founded after the shooting of Martin in Florida. Yet these brutal deaths and the protests keep occurring.
Floyd's death has sparked an eruption of outrage. There's a boiling lava of racial and political tensions, distress over the pandemic and economic pain.
href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12336045&ref=art_readmore" target="_blank"> George Floyd death: Arrested Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's wife announces she is leaving him
• George Floyd killing: National Guard mobilised amid clashes with police
• George Floyd death: Barack Obama, Oprah, Jamie Foxx call for justice
• George Floyd killing: Minneapolis cop charged with murder after kneeling on neck
• Riots and protests erupt in American cities after George Floyd's death - White House locked down, CNN HQ targeted
• Joe Biden: George Floyd's death shows 'open wound' of US racism
Protest marches with racially diverse crowds have spread from Minneapolis to cities around the US. They have spiralled into a spate of deaths, looting, vandalism and the torching of cars and buildings.
The African American community has been severely affected by Covid-19 and job losses. Black Americans make up 12.5per cent of the US population but are 22per cent of coronavirus fatalities and fill many frontline jobs. Many millions of Americans have lost work.
The officers involved in Floyd's death were fired last Wednesday. But had local authorities also moved quickly to charge all the police involved, some of the initial fallout might have been avoided. Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but only after three nights of public rage.
Video showed Floyd gradually succumbing as he lay handcuffed on the ground. Surrounding witnesses pleaded with police to help him. Floyd was unresponsive for nearly three minutes.
Other videos have been widely shared recently on social media including Arbery's fatal shooting by two white men in Georgia, and a white woman in Central Park calling police claiming to feel threatened after Christian Cooper, an African American birdwatcher, asked her to put her dog on a leash.
Such high-profile incidents are traumatic reminders to black Americans that they can suddenly be unsafe simply walking or jogging.
Video footage from the public and police cameras have not stopped the shootings, and officers are usually acquitted. Chauvin had multiple complaints and two letters of reprimand on his record.
Between the deaths of Garner and Floyd, there's been little progress but a lot more pressure piled onto African Americans.