LeBron James knows his critics are tired of his vocal support for social justice, but following the shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake by Wisconsin police on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers star found himself delivering a sadly familiar refrain.
‘I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as black people in America,’ James said following the Lakers’ Game 4 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the NBA‘s bubble near Orlando on Monday. ‘Black men, black women, black kids – we are terrified.’
Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha, Wisconsin police on Sunday after officers responded to a domestic disturbance call. Video of the incident went viral Monday, showing police shooting the 29-year-old father in the back as he attempted to enter a van.
According his attorney, Ben Crump, Blake’s three sons were seated in the van and witnessed the shooting.
Following surgery on Sunday, Blake was listed in serious condition at a Milwaukee hospital on Monday.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Lakers star LeBron James (right) reacted to the police shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake (left) in Kenosha, Wisconsin by saying that the black community fears for its life
Demonstrators march through New York after Jacob Blake was shot by Kenosha police
‘If you’re sitting here and telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman or detain him or just before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here and lying to not only me, but you’re lying to every African American, every black person in the community,’ James said. ‘Because we see it over and over and over.
‘If you watch the video, there were multiple moments where if they wanted to, they could’ve tackled him. They could’ve grabbed him. You know? They could’ve done that. And why, why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing?’
The officers involved are now on administrative leave, according to Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian.
James was particularly frustrated that they weren’t using the police body cameras that are currently being utilized around the country.
‘Quite frankly, it’s just f***ed up in our community,’ James added.
City and law enforcement leaders in Kenosha unanimously endorsed the use of body cameras in 2017 as a way to increase police accountability and collect evidence at scenes of domestic violence, among other benefits. But since then, they have balked at the price tag, raised policy concerns and put off implementation.
The delays meant that officers who were on the scene of Sunday’s shooting of Jacob Blake while responding to a domestic call were not equipped with technology that could give their perspective on an incident that has roiled the nation.
LeBron James knows his critics are tired of him speaking out in favor of social justice
Others suggested that James is using the Black Lives Matter movement to promote himself
Many of James’s critics have complained on social media about his ‘virtue signaling’
James also took issue with the prevalence of guns in the US, while admitting that he doesn’t know how to solve that problem.
‘I think firearms are a huge issue in America,’ James said, as quoted by ESPN. ‘I don’t know how you clean that up. I’m not saying that I’ve got all the answers, but guns are – they are a huge issue in America, and they’re not used for just hunting that a lot of people do for sport. Right now for black people, right now when you’re hunting, we think you’re hunting us.’
I’m not saying that I’ve got all the answers, but guns are – they are a huge issue in America, and they’re not used for just hunting that a lot of people do for sport. Right now for black people, right now when you’re hunting, we think you’re hunting us
Lakers star LeBron James
Other NBA stars, coaches and other athletes expressed their outrage as well on Monday.
Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the shooting in a statement to begin his pregame news conference on Monday, hours before his team was set to face the Magic in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series near Orlando.
‘I’d just like to send out my thoughts and prayers to Jacob Blake and his family,’ Budenholzer said. ‘Another young Black man shot by a police officer. We need to have change. We need to be better.’
The Bucks also issued a team statement that read, in part:
‘We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community.
‘Our organization will continue to stand for all black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims. We will work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist.’
(From left) Lakers coach Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James kneel in protest of racism before Monday’s Game 4 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in their first-round series
In a video taken by a bystander across the street from the shooting, Blake can be seen walking toward the driver’s side of a gray SUV followed by two officers with their guns drawn at his back. Seven gunshot sounds can be heard as Blake, who appears to be unarmed, opens the car door, and a woman nearby jumps up and down in disbelief
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell wrote on Twitter that the ongoing NBA postseason is relatively unimportant compared to civil rights issues facing the US
In the bubble in Orlando, the NBA and its players are marking the Black Lives Matter movement. The phrase is painted on the courts, and a majority of players are wearing a social justice message on their jerseys and Black Lives Matter warmup shirts.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer (left) addressed the shooting in a statement to begin his pregame news conference on Monday, hours before his team was set to face the Magic in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. ‘I’d just like to send out my thoughts and prayers to Jacob Blake and his family,’ Budenholzer said. ‘Another young Black man shot by a police officer. We need to have change. We need to be better’
Donovan Mitchell, who scored 51 points to lead his Utah Jazz team to a win over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, tweeted a photo after the game with a caption that read, ‘Enough Is Enough Black Lives Matter’
And on Monday morning, he added an angry message:
‘THIS IS SICK AND IS A REAL PROBLEM WE DEMAND JUSTICE! ITS CRAZY I DONT HAVE ANY WORDS BUT WTF MAN! THIS IS WHY WE DONT FEEL SAFE!!!!’
Players in other sports also expressed their disbelief at Blake’s shooting.
‘Damn they shot that man 7 times…. why can’t 3 officers subdue one male? I truly need answers,’ tweeted safety Tyrann Mathieu of the Kansas City Chiefs.
‘Stop killing unarmed black people,’ New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas wrote.
‘go ahead try and explain how 7 rounds in his back makes sense.’ tweeted Jack Flaherty, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Police were responding to a report of a domestic incident at 5:11 p.m. local time when they encountered Blake, whose three children were in the van.
The shooting set off a night of protests in Kenosha.
GROUP LED BY LeBRON JAMES RECRUITS POLL WORKERS TO REPLACE AT-RISK SENIORS AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
A group of athletes led by NBA star LeBron James will roll out a multimillion-dollar program in the next few weeks to recruit poll workers in heavily Black electoral districts for November’s election, a person familiar with the plans said on Monday.
More Than a Vote, a group of prominent athletes fighting voter suppression, will collaborate with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on the program in a dozen states, including battlegrounds such as Georgia, Michigan, Florida and Wisconsin, where disenfranchisement affects Black voters, the source said.
The New York Times first reported the effort, which will recruit young people as poll workers and include a paid advertising program and corporate partnership to encourage employees to volunteer as poll workers.
LeBron James (seen here campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016) now hopes to find younger poll workers to replace seniors who may be at higher risk due to coronavirus
A shortage of poll workers to staff in-person voting sites amid worries about the coronavirus pandemic has led to dramatically fewer polling locations in some states that held primaries earlier this year, including Georgia and Wisconsin. That led to long lines, hours-long waits and widespread confusion, particularly in hard-hit African-American communities that felt the brunt of the cutbacks.
The problems, and worries about what they could mean for the Nov. 3 election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, led to the formation of More Than a Vote by James, star of the Los Angeles Lakers, and other athletes.
The program will begin in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas, the source said.
The group previously partnered with teams in Los Angeles and Atlanta to turn stadiums into polling places, and worked on an effort to help the formerly incarcerated restore their voting rights in Florida.