On April 20, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant called 911for help in a situation which would ultimately result in her death. The Columbus Police Department shot and killed Bryant outside of her Ohio home. A day which should have been spent celebrating the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd was used to mourn the loss of Bryant. Another Black body has dropped and has been causing quite a stir in the community —as it should.
The day after Bryant’s death, NBA player Lebron James posted a tweet insinuating the officer who shot and killed Bryant would end up facing the same fate as Chauvin. The tweet, which has been deleted, was simple.
Since the tweet, many people have been ranting about and criticizing James for his words.. But maybe they're taking it the wrong way. As a Black man, James simply may be tired of seeing Black people being senselessly killed, especially Black youth. When he posted that tweet, the verdict for Chavin had just been announced; perhaps he just wanted to shift focus, so another police man could be held accountable. I believe James meant no harm.
The following day, former NFL player Jake Bequette talked about the influence politics has on sports and the military during an appearance on Fox and Friends. According to Fox News, Bequette said he feels it is tragic how politics are injected into sports and the military, in reference to the tweet from James. He said he believes these two entities should continue to rise above race, class and background without politics.
"They’re not gonna stop until they’ve taken over everything," Bequette said on air.
FormerPresident Donald Trump also interjected himself into the matter with reference to James’ tweet. On April 22, Trump released a statement suggesting Lebron James focus on basketball and not dividing the country.
“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,” Trump said in his statement, which he issued through Ben Jacobs on Twitter. “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.”
More recently, LAPD veteran Deon Joseph slammed James on his Facebook page, calling his tweet “off base and extreme.” Joseph said he feltt James was forming predisposed accusations about police officers before really getting to know them and their job. In his Facebook post, Joseph said, “Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman's life was irresponsible and disturbing. It showed a complete lack of understanding of the challenge of our job in the heat of a moment.”
“The heat of the moment” is a widely used phrase which shrinks tragic events. Although Ma’Khia Bryant was holding a knife at the time of her death, she was the one who called the police for help, and she did not deserve to die. At the end of the day, all of the blame cannot be put on James and the things he decides to say. People say what they think on the internet all day, every day. Social media is becoming a public forum in which people are using their First Amendment rights. James should not be punished for one tweet he made in the heat of the moment.
Hours after James posted the original tweet, he deleted it and tweeted again to explain his reasoning behind his first tweet. James discussed how he did not want his original tweet to be used as a medium to create more hate, he just wants to see more accountability.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. 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,” James said.