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LeBron James preaches nonviolence toward all, won't comment on sheriff's challenge

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

After the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, LeBron James chose not to comment on the Los Angeles County sheriff who challenged him to add to the reward to apprehend the shooter of two cops who were injured in Compton, California.

What James did choose to say rang loud and clear.

‘We fear that moment when we are pulled over’

James decided to discuss his stance of nonviolence — not just toward the police, but all people — and how that message can be misinterpreted when he’s advocating for the end of police violence toward Black people.

"I've never in my 35 years ever condoned violence. Never have. But I also know what's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong,” James said, via ESPN. “I grew up in the inner city in a Black community in what we call the hood or the ghetto. ... I've seen a lot of counts firsthand of a lot of Black people being racially profiled because of our color. And I've seen it throughout my whole life.

"And I'm not saying that all cops are bad because, I actually — throughout high school and things of that nature, and I'm around them all the time, and they're not all bad. But when you see the videos that's going on and you can see all over the — not only my hometown but all over America — you continue to see the acts of violence toward my kind, I can't do nothing but to speak about it and see the common denominator.

"But not one time have I ever said, 'Let's act violent toward cops.' I just said that what's going on in our community is not OK, and we fear for that, and we fear for our lives. It's something that we go on every single day as a Black man and a Black woman and a Black kid, a Black girl. We fear. We fear that moment when we're pulled over."

LeBron James, wearing a "VOTE" shirt, kneels and links arms with his teammates during the national anthem.
LeBron James preached nonviolence on Tuesday night, discussing how that message can get twisted when advocating for the end of police violence toward Black people. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Violence isn’t the answer

James used the June arrest of Keonte Furdge as an example of how the police can cause Black people to fear doing even the most normal, everyday things. Furdge, a 23-year-old Black man who lives in Monona, Wisconsin, was arrested and held at gunpoint by law enforcement in his home after a neighbor saw him sitting on the patio and called the police when they didn’t recognize him and assumed he was breaking in. The home belonged to Furdge’s coach, who was allowing him and a teammate to stay there because it was empty following the death of the coach’s mother.

"The police came in the house without a warrant, without anything and arrested the guy, a Black man, because he was sitting out on the porch. And if you can't tell me that's not racial profiling, then I don't know what the hell we're looking at," James said. "But I do not condone violence toward anyone — police, Black people, white people, anyone of color, anyone not of color — because that's not going to ever make this world or America what we want it to be."

The police later called the incident “a misunderstanding,” but Furdge has now filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and the two officers who handcuffed him.

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