LeBron James has expressed regret over a tweet he posted last month about the police-involved shooting death of Ohio teen Ma’Khia Bryant.
‘I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant and I owe it to her and this movement to change it,’ the Los Angeles Lakers forward wrote on Twitter on Monday.
James included a link to an article by Vox race reporter Fabiola Cineas which criticized Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon’s decision to shoot 16-year-old Bryant at the moment it appeared she was about to stab another woman.
‘Thank you to @fabiolacineas for educating us about Ma’Khia and her story and why this needs to be about her,’ he wrote.
James’ message appeared to be in reference to a tweet he posted shortly after Bryant was killed on April 20, which featured a photo of Reardon and the caption: ‘YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.’
The tweet outraged James’ critics who accused him of inciting violence against the police officer. The basketball star responded to the backlash by deleting the tweet.
Basketball superstar LeBron James appeared to express regret about a tweet he posted last month about the police-involved shooting death of Columbus, Ohio teen Ma’Khia Bryant. James is seen above in Los Angeles on Sunday
‘I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant and I owe it to her and this movement to change it,’ the Los Angeles Lakers forward wrote on Twitter on Monday. James then thanked Vox race reporter Fabiola Cineas for writing an article on the news site critical of Office Nicholas Reardon’s decision to shoot Bryant at the moment it appeared she was about to stab another woman
Bryant is pictured above. She was shot four times by Columbus Police Department Officer Nicholas Reardon
Reardon, who is a military veteran, is seen in the above undated file photo
In an earlier tweet on Monday, James wrote: ‘Protect our young black women & men’
In her Vox article Cineas wrote: ‘Bryant’s death has become a debate that questions a child’s actions – and worthiness to live – instead of another example of the racism of policing and the institution’s failure to provide wholesome support, care, and safety for the communities it serves.’
The reporter argued that Bryant’s death didn’t draw the same ‘cries for justice’ as that of George Floyd – in part because she was holding a knife at the time she was shot.
Cineas cited ‘crisis response experts’ as saying that Reardon could have done more to deescalate the situation before firing his weapon.
The article struck a chord with James, who had tweeted earlier on Monday: ‘Protect our young black women & men.’
James stirred controversy on April 20 after he tweeted – then deleted – a message to Reardon. ‘YOU’RE NEXT,’ the all-caps tweet from James read. It included an emoji depicting an hourglass and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY. The tweet included an image of Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon, who fired four shots that killed Ma’Khia Bryant on April 20
The backlash from the initial tweet prompted James to delete it and issue another tweet
Reardon, who fired four shots that killed Bryant on April 20, has been put on administrative leave as the authorities investigate.
The incident took place 20 minutes before Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter for the May 2020 fatal arrest of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man.
Chauvin is the white police officer who was seen in bystander video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes as Floyd can be heard saying that he was unable to breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital moments later.
The fatal shooting of Bryant and the death of Floyd drew comparisons, though body cam and surveillance video that emerged showed that Bryant was engaged in a knife fight with another girl.
In the split seconds before she was shot by Reardon, Bryant reached back and appeared to be set to stab another girl who was pushed up against a car.
James’ tweet prompted a torrent of criticism from conservatives who accused the basketball superstar of inciting violence against Reardon.
Donald Trump called James racist for his tweet, which the former president described as ‘divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning’.
Trump, who has frequently clashed with the Obama-supporting sports star, weighed in with a scathing statement.
‘LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,’ said Trump.
‘His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning.
‘He may be a great basketball player but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!’
Donald Trump issued a statement from his Florida estate condemning James
Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, joined in the criticism of the basketball star, after ex-NFL player turned Army Ranger Jake Bequette hit out at James for ‘politicizing’ sport.
McCain said on The View that, while she agrees that people of color are treated differently by law enforcement in America, James’ social media post was fueling more violence.
‘No one without two brain cells in their head can understand that police tend to treat African-Americans and people of color a different way than they do white people,’ she said.
‘It’s just a fact we’re all trying to reconcile and come to terms with.
‘But when you have people like LeBron James posting pictures of this police officer before this has been adjudicated and litigated, you’re also putting that police officer’s life in danger. And I would like killing to stop in this country and violence to stop.’
McCain added that Bryant’s death ‘will be adjudicated in court’ adding that ‘the way I was raised is to respect authority.’
‘The way I was raised is to respect authority, to respect police officers, to respect law enforcement. I have a lot of friends who are in the military and who are also police officers,’ McCain said.
Meghan McCain has slammed LeBron James for allegedly endangering the life of the cop who shot dead Ma’Khia Bryant when he tweeted ‘you’re next’ after Derek Chauvin’s conviction
Arkansas Sen Tom Cotton was one of the first to call James out, tweeting: ‘Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer. This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?’
Ohio Representative Mike Loychik said: ‘People like LeBron James and his friends on the left are driving good people away from careers in law enforcement. This is the exact OPPOSITE of how to improve policing.’
A black Los Angeles Police Department officer, Deon Joseph, penned an open letter to James on Facebook, inviting him to have a conversation about the challenges faced by law enforcement officials.
James, whose hometown of Akron, Ohio, is about 125 miles northeast from Columbus, the state capital, frequently weighs in on social issues.
He explained later on Wednesday to his 49.6 million followers why he deleted the tweet, saying it was being used ‘to create more hate’.
Deon Joseph (left), a Los Angeles Police Department officer who often patrols in the city’s notorious Skid Row section, said Lakers star LeBron James’ (right) ‘stance on policing is so off base and extreme’
Joseph began his open letter to James by praising the Lakers great for his ‘acts of charity’ that ‘shows a huge heart.’ But the LAPD officer took issue with James’ tweet about the events in Columbus. ‘Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing,’ Joseph wrote
‘ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!’ he said.
‘I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.’
Officials with the Columbus Division of Police had released initial footage of the shooting just hours after it happened, which was a departure from protocol as the force faces immense scrutiny from the public following a series of recent high-profile police killings that have led to clashes.