The nation’s top police unions Thursday ripped LeBron James saying his tweet reacting to the deadly police shooting of a Black teenager in Columbus, Ohio was “disgraceful and extremely reckless.”
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers star tweeted a photo of the officer involved in the shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. The tweet included the caption, “YOU’RE NEXT” and an image of an hourglass suggesting the officer’s time is running out.
Although Mr. James deleted the tweet, he defended it in subsequent social media posts.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” he wrote. “I took the tweet down because it’s 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.”
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— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
But the police unions say Mr. James was out of line, slamming his comments as “ignorant.”
The National Fraternal Order of Police said Mr. James has a responsibility to educate himself on the facts before weighing in.
A body-worn camera attached to the officers who responded appears to show Bryant trying to stab another Black teenager at the time of the shooting, the group noted.
“The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that” the nation’s largest police union said in a tweet.
.@KingJames, with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in. This is disgraceful & extremely reckless.
The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact. pic.twitter.com/GTHn1VAAlf
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) April 21, 2021
The National Association of Police Organizations went further, calling his comments “disgusting” and uninformed.
“Make no mistake about it, if the police officer did not take action to save another young woman’s life, James would likely be the first person out there claiming the racist police just stood idly by while another Black child was murdered,” the group said.
“Now instead of showing even the slightest recognition that officers are sometimes put into impossible situations, he threatens the murder of the officer who was forced to save another person’s life,” the statement continued. “Ignorance, even in a billionaire like James is never pretty. But James‘ display of ignorance coupled with a threat to murderous violence is disgusting, indeed.”
Bryant was shot and killed Tuesday after police responded to a 911 call that someone was trying to stab her. It is not known who made the call.
Body-camera video shows Ma’Khia, who appears to be armed with a knife, chasing a girl outside a home. The girl who was being chased falls on the lawn in front of the officer.
The officer screams at Ma’Khia to “get down” before she targets another girl on the hood of a car, the video shows. As she swings what appears to be a knife, the officer fires several shots, killing her.
Several celebrities and politicians were also critical of Mr. James‘ tweets.
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, said the comments encourage violence against the officer.
“This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?” he wrote.
Even O.J. Simpson weighed in, criticizing Mr. James‘ remarks, but also accusing the media of selectively editing the footage to obscure the officer’s actions.
“Sometimes you need to take your time and be a little more patient before you comment on some of these bad incidents that are happening with police departments,” he said in a video clip released on Twitter. “This time, LeBron should have waited.”
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