Moments after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, the nation learned about the death of a 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant. Bryant was shot and killed by Columbus Police Department Officer Nicholas Reardon after she called the police for help moments before. Reports indicate that Bryant or her sister called the police and requested help because they were worried an older group of girls were going to attack them. As officers arrived, Bryant and another girl were engaged in an altercation involving a knife. Within ten seconds of assessing the scene, Reardon pulled his weapon, shouted a few times and then killed Bryant.
Less than 24 hours after Bryant's death became a headline in newsrooms across the nation, NBA champion LeBron James chimes in on the matter. He tweeted a picture of Reardon at the scene of the shooting with a caption asking that he be held accountable for the shooting. After receiving backlash for the tweet, James took it down and put together a Twitter thread explaining why he posted what he did.
"I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because it's 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," he tweeted.
Nearly two weeks after issuing his initial set of tweets, James has brought the conversation back to his timeline. This time around, he's aiming to shift the conversation away from himself and toward Ma'Khia Bryant. In his latest tweet, James said that he "fueled the wrong conversation" about the shooting and he owed it to "this movement to change it." The reigning NBA Finals MVP also shared an article written by Fabiola Cineas of Vox. In a well-written article, Cineas outlined how others have attempted to justify Bryant's death because she wasn't the "perfect victim."
"Bryant’s death has become a debate that questions a child’s actions — and worthiness to live — instead of another example of the racism of policing and the institution’s failure to provide wholesome support, care, and safety for the communities it serves. The insistence that Reardon had no other option than to take Bryant’s life to save others — though he risked everyone’s life in the process — displays the lack of consideration and value that society places on the lives of Black girls and women," Cineas wrote.
“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. And too often we have a caveat when it comes to defending, protecting, and caring for Black girls,” Ohio State University professor Treva Lindsey added.
As expected, James faced backlash yet again for his tweets. However, he stands by what he wrote and will not be taking it down.
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