LOS ANGELES, CA – Basketball star LeBron James is being hit with intense criticism after a controversial tweet – now deleted – where some are saying that he allegedly called for violence against a Columbus, Ohio police officer who had shot and killed Makiyah Bryant, 16, a black girl who was attempting to stab another female on Tuesday.
“YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY,” James posted with an hourglass emoji on Twitter Wednesday, along with a photograph of the Columbus officer that allegedly shot Bryant; many saw the move on the NBA star’s part as using his clout with his many fans to target the law enforcement officer.
The reaction to James’ tweet was intensely negative, with the National Fraternal Order of Police responding that “LeBron James], with his vast resources and influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in. This is disgraceful and extremely reckless. The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) tweeted, “Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer. This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?”
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James eventually deleted the tweet; later, he posted on Twitter again, stating that his anger over the incident was fueled by recent police shootings of black individuals by police.
“ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself!” James tweeted. “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!”
“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,” James added. “it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
On Tuesday, police responded to calls of an attempted stabbing; released bodycam footage shows an officer arriving on-scene, at which time Bryant is seen attacking two other females with a large kitchen knife. After Bryant appears to ignore law enforcement’s commands and continues to stab a victim, the officer shoots her multiple times. Bryant was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther stated at a press conference that the officer’s split-second actions had saved the lives of others.
“We know based on this footage, the officer took action to protect another young girl in our community,” he said. “But a family is grieving tonight and this young 15-year-old girl will never be coming home.”