Even after bodycam footage showing a life-threatening situation justified the use of deadly force against an African American teenager in Columbus, Ohio, LeBron James tweeted a photo of the officer and said “you’re next.” The tweet garnered outrage and was eventually deleted.
After the shooting death of Columbus, Ohio teenager Ma’Khia Bryant, NBA superstar and Looney Toons actor LeBron James tweeted a photo of Columbus Police officer Nicholas Reardon, saying “You’re next #accountability”.
- The tweet, which if anyone to the right politically of LeBron James had tweeted would have been banned for targeted harassment, was eventually deleted by James after he said his tweet—which, again, was targeted harassment—was “being used to create more hate.”
- James’ tweet drew the ire of former President Donald Trump, who called his tweet “racist”, “divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning.”
- The National Fraternal Order of Police also condemned James’ tweet, saying he “should educate himself” “on the facts before weighing in.”
- Huffington Post’s reporting misleadingly characterized the incident, saying James’ tweet included a photograph of Officer Nicholas Reardon, who “fatally shot the Black teen while responding to reports of an attempted stabbing”, ignoring the fact that Reardon witnessed the attempted stabbing.
- Forbes opinion contributor Terence Moore said that while LeBron James got the details wrong and that he “blew it” by “rage tweeting”, LeBron can and should be forgiven, saying he has been at the forefront for racial causes long before “Colin Kaepernick took a knee.”
- CNN’s reporting quoted author and academic Ibram X. Kendi who said LeBron James was among many people he knows that “did not witness police work” when viewing bodycam footage of Officer Reardon stopping Ma’Khia Bryant from stabbing two people.
- Opinion Contributor Joe Concha wrote in The Hill that LeBron’s selective outrage is part of the problem, noting his criticism of an NBA team’s general manger tweeting “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” in 2019, referencing Communist China’s effective takeover and repression of Hong Kong.
- RedState reported on FS1 host Marcellus Wiley’s entreaty that James needs to strive to better use the power of his platform, that he “does much good for many people and should be commended for it” but that “he failed in that moment” in reference to his tweet about the officer.
- Newsmax interviewed Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who argued James jumped to conclusions and incited violence against Officer Reardon, but that he ultimately realized what he was doing when he deleted the tweet.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021