NBA star LeBron James expressed regret this week about a Twitter message last month regarding Ma’Khia Bryant, the Ohio teen who was shot dead by a police officer while appearing ready to use a knife against a woman.
“I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant,” James wrote on Twitter on Monday, “and I owe it to her and this movement to change it. Thank you to @fabiolacineas for educating us about Ma’Khia and her story and why this needs to be about her.”
“I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant.”
James seemed to be saying he regretted sparking a conversation about the Columbus police officer who shot Bryant – rather than focusing on how Bryant came to be in such a situation.
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The Los Angeles Lakers star’s message accompanied a retweet of a May 1 Vox article by writer Fabiola Cineas, titled, “Why they’re not saying Ma’Khia Bryant’s name.”
In another tweet Monday, James wrote: “Protect our Young Black Women & Men!”
The Vox article asserts that Bryant’s death did not spark the same “cries for justice” as George Floyd’s death, in part because Bryant was wielding a knife against the other woman when she was shot. It notes that some “crisis response experts” have argued that Columbus police Officer Nicholas Reardon, who used his weapon against Bryant, could have taken other actions to deescalate the situation and prevent Bryant’s death.
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The article later quotes Treva Lindsey, a professor of African-American women’s history at the Ohio State University, who contends that in such situations, critics often focus the suspect having “brought this on herself,” rather than on the “systemic oppression” that led to the situation in the first place.
“People will say, ‘I’m really sad this whole scenario happened, but had she not had that knife ….’ That becomes the ‘but,’ the qualifier, the caveat,” Lindsey tells Vox. “And too often we have a caveat when it comes to defending, protecting, and caring for Black girls.”
Following Bryant’s death April 20, James posted a photo of the police officer with the message “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.” The implication seemed to be that James was calling for criminal prosecution of Reardon, as the shooting death of Bryant occurred on the same day that a jury in Minnesota convicted former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the May 2020 death of Floyd.
James later removed the tweet – but not before drawing strong backlash, including from many people in law enforcement.
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“No officer wants to take a life, but I’ll tell you one thing: That officer saved a life and he’s a hero,” Los Angeles police Detective Jamie McBride told Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” last week, referring to James as “one of the biggest hypocrites out there.”
The Bryant shooting death remains under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Reardon remains on administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe, the Columbus Dispatch reported.