By now, we’ve all heard the argument, or at least part of it, for defunding the police, reforming law enforcement, or abolishing it altogether. It’s pushed by individuals and groups who have become enraged in the last few years over the supposedly disproportionate number of blacks and minorities being arrested and/or killed by police officers.
These people are tired of losing black lives. They are tired of police brutality and abuse. And rightfully so.
But rather than go after the “bad apples” in the law enforcement industry, they have decided that all cops are somehow inherently evil and that the system is so broken that it can’t be fixed – only wholly destroyed and replaced.
NBA star LeBron James is one such individual. Starting shortly after the death of George Floyd, James has become increasingly active in voicing his opinion on the matters of policing on social media. And, for the most part, it’s all pretty much been one-sided.
James recently chose to comment on the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, who was killed last week by a white police officer. Bodycam footage reveals that Bryant was about to stab another young black female who she had pinned up against a car. And right before the blade would have been thrust into this girl’s neck, an officer shot Bryant.
James took to Twitter to voice his outrage, posting a picture of the cop who had done the shooting with the comment, “YOU’RE NEXT, #ACCOUNTABILITY.”
The post was only up for a short time before James took it down. But he didn’t apologize for it. Instead, he tried to explain himself.
“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!”
But at least one person thinks that maybe, just maybe, if LeBron got to hear the other side’s opinion or at least where they are coming from, he might not be so eager to use such a “broad and destructive” brush to paint all police with.
Los Angeles Police Officer Deon Joseph has hopes that he can one day sit down with James to discuss policing and get both sides out in the open. And so he’s written a letter to the Los Angeles Lakers player to invite him to do just that.
Joseph writes, “Unlike some who have dug their heals in the belief that police are inherently evil, I think if you yourself actually sat down and had a real honest and open conversation with a cop, there is a strong chance you may discover we are not the monsters you have come to believe we are, who deserve the hate and (disdain) you have.”
Joseph, who is black, continued, saying that even if James didn’t change his mind on the matter, at least he would have heard the other side, which Joseph could at least respect.
The officer noted that he’s always been a fan of James’ team, as has his family. However, he just can’t get behind James’ thought patterns.
“Your current stance on policing is so off base and extreme. Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing. It showed a complete lack of understanding of the challenge of our job in the heat of the moment. You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save the life from a deadly attack.”
“Instead of apologizing, you deflected. You said you took your twee down because you did not want it to be used for hate, when the tweet itself was the embodiment of hatred, rooted in a lack of understanding of the danger of the situation.”
Joseph reasoned, “I do feel I can help you understand the reality of the profession of policing and that there is another side you need to hear. You are tired of Black folks dying? So am I. You hate racism and police brutality? So do I. But you cannot paint 800,000 men and women who are of all races, faiths, sexual orientations and are also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, preachers, coaches, community members and just human with such a broad and destructive brush.”
And so Joseph is offering “no cameras. No fanfare. Just two men who are talking.” Maybe, just maybe, James would finally understand. Although, I’m sure not holding my breath…