On Tuesday, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was fatally shot in Columbus, Ohio by a police officer who was responding to an altercation involving the Black teen. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is now receiving criticism for a tweet he posted regarding the incident.
Bryant’s death came just before former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin received a guilty verdict for the 2020 murder of George Floyd, an event that sparked an international movement against racial injustice. As with Floyd, the latest shooting spurred protests in and around the city where it occurred.
Body camera footage released one day later showed that Bryant was wielding a knife and had lunged at another girl as the officer approached. The aggressive action prompted the officer, later identified as Nicholas Reardon, to fire on Bryant.
James posted a tweet on Wednesday seemingly comparing the officer to Chauvin and calling for accountability.
Moreover, the 17-time NBA All-Star attached a picture of the officer.
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LeBron Tweets Picture of Reardon, Says He’s “Next”
In his tweet, which has since been deleted, James left little mystery about his gut reaction to the incident and the officer who fired the fatal shots.
“YOU’RE NEXT,” he wrote, along with an hourglass emoji and the hashtag “#ACCOUNTABILITY.” He also included the picture, which looked to have been taken from the footage.
Although James later removed the tweet, presumably after learning more about the incident, screenshots of the post continue to circulate on social media.
More recently, James returned to Twitter with a series of tweets that emphasized the importance of getting the facts and being educated on issues. He also reiterated his sympathy for Bryant’s family.
“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,” he tweeted. “My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
James also wrote that he removed the tweet so that it couldn’t be used to “create more hate.” James has been an outspoken supporter of the push to combat racism and end police brutality.
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
A 2020 Yale study found that armed Black people were killed by police at a rate 2.6 times greater than that of white people. That rate jumped to three times the rate of whites for Black people who were unarmed.
LeBron Criticized for Deleted Tweet
Although the Lakers star reversed course on his initial comments, he has nonetheless come under fire for the since-deleted tweet. For his part, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) took James to task for potentially motivating others to commit violent acts.
“Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer,” he tweeted. “This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?”
The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was equally critical of the four-time NBA champion.
“@KingJames, with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in,” the organization tweeted. “This is disgraceful & extremely reckless. The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact.”
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