Ex-President Donald Trump has weighed in on the scandal that erupted after a recent Twitter post by basketball celebrity LeBron James in connection with the fatal police shooting of 16 year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.
“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,” said the 46th POTUS in a statement released by his office on Thursday.
INBOX: Donald Trump calls LeBron James racist pic.twitter.com/Mn7STEis7j— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) April 23, 2021
On Wednesday, LeBron James posted a tweet about the fatal police shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant, an African-American girl in Columbus, Ohio.
The post showed a photo of white officer Nicholas Reardon, identified as having shot the 16-year-old on Tuesday afternoon.
James, 36, who is originally from Akron, Ohio, accompanied his tweet with the caption, "You’re Next” and the hashtag “Accountability," along with an hourglass emoji.
Trump calls for a peaceful protest he’s off Twitter. LeBron James calls for ‘your next’ cricket. pic.twitter.com/h4zUEzWz5L— Dave Harley (@dcalrider) April 22, 2021
Slamming the inflammatory tweet by the four-time NBA champion, Trump added through Ben Jacobs on Twitter:
“His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!” reads the statement.
Earlier, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz also denounced LeBron James for his incendiary tweet, telling Fox News Primetime on Wednesday that sending such a message was "grossly irresponsible" of the basketball star, and could be interpreted by some as a call for violence.
The NBA star - a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter(BLM), deleted the post soon after a significant backlash.
Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 21, 2021
This is disgraceful and dangerous.
Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?
People like LeBron James and his friends on the left are driving good people away from careers in law enforcement.— Representative Mike Loychik (@MikeLoychik) April 21, 2021
This is the exact OPPOSITE of how to improve policing.
James attempted to vent his feelings on the incident in another tweet, saying that his "anger still is here for what happened that lil girl".
ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! 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! 🙏🏾✊🏾🤎👑— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
In yet another tweet he said he was "so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police", adding that he took down the post because according to him it was "being used to create more hate".
He also blamed "the entire system" for the situation saying that "they always use our words to create more racism".
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— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
There has not been any comment from either the NBA or the Los Angeles Lakers regarding the situation.
Nicholas Reardon was identified by authorities in Ohio on Wednesday as the officer who shot Bryant after responding to a 911 call, with a probe launched by state investigators.
Bodycam footage released by Columbus officials shows Bryant scuffling with two other girls, and lunging at one of them with what appears to be a knife in her hand.
New angle of the attempted stabbing released pic.twitter.com/xaaWiZNwx0— Peace Promoter Poso (@JackPosobiec) April 22, 2021
Reardon is then seen firing four rounds, with the teen falling to the ground. The 16-year old later died at a local hospital.
The scandal surrounding the Twitter post by LeBron James, who has often spoken out on racial justice issues, comes as he voiced elation over the verdict in the George Floyd murder case.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges stemming from the in-custody May 2020 death of the African-American Minnesota resident.
ACCOUNTABILITY— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 20, 2021
After a jury in Minneapolis on Tuesday convicted Chauvin of murder and manslaughter, the NBA player tweeted “Accountability”.