LeBron James On Narrative He's Inciting Police Violence: 'I Do Not Condone Violence Towards Anyone'
A narrative has emerged that LeBron James is inciting violence towards policemen by speaking out against racism and police brutality.
After the Lakers' 114-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference Finals series on Tuesday, James made it clear that's not his intention.
"I've never in my 35 years ever condoned violence," James said in a videoconference. "Never have. But I also know what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong, and I grew up in the inner city in a Black community in what we call the hood or the ghetto, however you want to picture it. And I've seen a lot of counts first hand of a lot of Black people being racially profiled because of our color. And I've seen it throughout my whole life. And I'm not saying that all cops are bad because, I actually throughout high school and things of that nature, I'm around them all the time and they're not all bad.
"But when you see the videos that's going on and you can see all over the -- not only my hometown, but all over America -- you continue to see the acts of violence towards my kind, I can't do nothing but to speak about it and see the common denominator. But not one time have I ever said, 'Let's act violent towards cops.' I just said that what's going on in our community is not okay and we fear for that and we fear for our lives."
Since arriving in the NBA bubble in Walt Disney World, James has spoken out against the shootings of multiple Black men and women, including Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Jacob Blake.
After Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back by police officers multiple times Aug. 23 in Kenosha, WI, James delivered an impassioned speech on Aug. 25, saying, "We are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified. Because you don’t know. You have no idea. You have no idea how that cop that day left the house."
Nearly three weeks later, after a gunman shot two deputies outside a Metro train station in Compton on Sept. 13 in what's being described as an ambush attack, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva specifically called out James to ask him to match or double the reward money to catch the shooter.
"You expressed a very, very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer involved shootings and the impact it has on the African American community, and I appreciate that," Villanueva told 790KABC on Sept. 14. "But likewise, we need to appreciate the respect for life goes across professions, across races, creeds. And I'd like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that."
Said James: "I have zero comment on the sheriff."
Conservative commentator Candace Owens took to Twitter to blame James for inciting the incident.
"Why does this happen?" Owens tweeted Sept. 13. "Because pea-brained celebrities that are idolized like @KingJames tell young black men that they are “literally being hunted”. This is the natural result of such hyperbolic, dishonest rhetoric. The racist, anti-police, black lives matter LIE is to blame."
Owens was referencing a tweet James wrote May 6 after Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was gunned down by two white men Feb. 23 while he was on a jog near his home in Brunswick, Georgia.
"We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!" James tweeted.
James said he will continue speaking out against crimes against the Black community.
He referenced a Black man who was handcuffed in June after a woman called 911 alleging that he was trespassing a vacant home in Monona, WI. The man was renting the property.
"The police came in the house without a warrant, without anything and arrested the guy, a Black man, because he was sitting out on the porch," James said. "And if you can't tell me that's not racial profiling then I don't know what the hell we're looking at."
James, however, made it clear that he's calling out abuses of power and demanding change, but has never taken it beyond that.
"I do not condone violence towards anyone --- police, Black people, white people, anyone of color, anyone not of color -- because that's not gonna ever make this world or America what we want it to be," James said.