NBA superstar LeBron James is under fire after posting and subsequently removing a controversial tweet. On Wednesday afternoon, James tweeted a photo of police officer, Nicholas Reardon, who fatally killed Ma’Khia Bryant, an African-American teen as she was holding two females at knifepoint. The caption under Reardon’s photo read “You’re Next.”
The tweet was quickly deleted by LeBron James after it received tremendous backlash. The tweet was especially criticized by elected Republican officials who claimed the NBA star was inciting violence against the officer.
Tom Cotton, a U.S. Senator from Arkansas said that the tweet was “disgraceful and dangerous.” The senator then asked whether “the NBA [was] okay with this? Is Twitter?”
Despite deleting the tweet on Wednesday, LeBron James returned to Twitter to explain how he felt about the situation. “ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself!” James tweeted early Wednesday night. “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!”
Ten minutes later, James tweeted a second response. “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. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Both tweets received similar reactions. “You threatened a police officer who saved a girl’s life,” one filmmaker and veteran responded.
Another comment asked LeBron James to imagine his own son about to be stabbed. “You’re so far removed and detached you won’t even get all the facts before you cast judgment from your gated home. The split-second decisions these guys have to make are far more difficult than dribbling a ball.”
Still, there were plenty in support of the basketball player, commending him for expressing his thoughts on the matter.
“We’re with you LeBron,” former Miss Michigan, Kenya Bell said. “And I hope that officer is convicted NEXT as well,” as she referenced James’ original tweet.
The conversation surrounds officer Nicholas Reardon and his decision to open fire on Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl on Tuesday. He was called to the Walnut Hills area of Columbus at 4:36 p.m., according to Insider, responding to reports of girls fighting.
The audio recording of the call made to the police revealed a startling scene. The woman claimed that people were “over here trying to fight us, trying to stab us, trying to put hands on our grandma.”
In bodycam footage of the incident, Bryant runs into view before shoving a girl to the ground. Bryant runs away from the officer and appears to swing a knife at another girl. Four gunshots, presumed to be shot by Nicholas Reardon, can be heard before Bryant drops what the police claim was the knife. She then falls to the ground. Bryant was pronounced dead at a local hospital about a half-hour later, despite reports that officers attempted to perform life-saving measures on the teen.
The killing occurred less than half an hour before Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced. Chauvin was found guilty of all charges in his killing of George Floyd. Despite the relief the U.S. felt at the conviction, Bryant’s killing sparked protests on Tuesday night in Columbus.
According to the National Review, Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation intends to look into Reardon’s actions.
“I understand the outrage and the emotion about this incident,” Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said at a news conference. “The video shows there is more to this. It requires us to pause.”
Continued outrage at LeBron’s tweet flooded social media. Gad Saad, a professor of evolutionary behavioral science, expressed his dismay at the athlete’s words. “Most of your race-based tweets achieve nothing other than fomenting hate, division, and tribalism. You are a dispenser of racial hate rooted in an ethos of victimology. Strong people overcome their tragic circumstances as my family and I did when we escaped the Middle East.”