LeBron James on speaking out against police brutality: I never condone violence

Lakers forward LeBron James watches play against the Denver Nuggets.
Lakers forward LeBron James watches play against the Denver Nuggets from the bench during the second half on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Throughout the summer LeBron James has used his social media and interview sessions in the NBA bubble to discuss issues of racism and police brutality, calling for justice in cases where Black people have been killed or seriously injured by police, and sharing thoughts about what he sees as a broken relationship between police and the Black community.

When two sheriff’s deputies were shot in Compton, pundits and politicians, either implicitly or explicitly, pointed the finger at James and others who have spoken out about police brutality.

On Tuesday night, James was asked about that implication.

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


Two days after pulling off one of the most memorable wins in Lakers playoff history, the team came out flat in a Game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

“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 towards 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 towards 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.”

In the days after the deputies were shot, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the incident had showed her that “anti-law enforcement rhetoric expressed by many elected officials, community leaders and others has created a toxic environment amid the time of civil unrest.”

Conservative pundit Candace Owens directly pointed the finger at James on Twitter. She reposted a tweet sent by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s twitter account which showed video of the shooting. She added her own comment to say it happened “because pea-brained celebrities that are idolized like @KingJames tell young black men that they are ‘literally being hunted.’”

Lakers forward LeBron James controls the ball during Game 3.
Lakers forward LeBron James controls the ball during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It was a reference to a tweet sent by James on May 6 about a Black man in Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot to death by two white men in February while he was on a jog.

Another Los Angeles politician, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, asked James to give the county $175,000 to add to the existing reward for the shooter who attacked his deputies. Villanueva noted James’ comments about police shootings and the relationship between the Black community and police, before making what he called a “challenge.”

James said he had “zero comment on the sheriff.”

After the Lakers stormed back to make it a two-possession game, Jamal Murray’s clutch play secured a 114-106 win for the Nuggets. The Lakers lead the series 2-1.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time James had spoken about the Sheriff’s Department. On Sunday after Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, James brought up the officers unprompted.

“My condolences goes out to the officers that were shot in Los Angeles,” James said. “We want justice for that as well as we want justice for Breonna Taylor and so on and so on. We don’t want no violence. We preach for the better of love and peace. Hopefully we can get that at some point in our communities. Us as a nation. That’s what’s going to make us the greatest nation again. All peace and all love.”

He reiterated that thought on Tuesday.

“I do not condone violence towards anyone,” James said. “Police, Black people, white people, anyone of color, anyone not of color because that’s not gonna ever make this world or America what we want it to be.”