Former President Donald Trump who repeatedly turned racist dog-whistles into bullhorns and feasted on division as a platform for his failed reelection bid last year, suggested that a call for “accountability” by an NBA star in the recent police shooting of an Ohio teen was both “racist” and “divisive.”
The former President released a statement on Thursday night suggesting that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James should “focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA,” after James tweeted a photo earlier this week of an officer suspected for involvement in the shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.
“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!” Trump said.
Trump’s comments come after James deleted a tweet on Wednesday that included what appeared to be a photo of Nicholas Reardon, the Ohio officer police have said shot and killed Bryant in Columbus earlier this week.
“YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY,” James wrote in the post. The basketball star appeared to be referring to a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial earlier this week when — in a rare case of accountability in police violence — a jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd last May.
Trump is not the only Republican who has sought to castigate James for demanding police accountability.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) suggested on Wednesday that James’ tweet was “inciting violence against an Ohio police officer.” Last summer, Cotton had called on Trump in an op-ed to invoke the “Insurrection Act,” to quell “rioters” who “outnumbered police” who he said were made to bear the brunt of violence during racial justice protests that unfolded in the wake of Floyd’s death.
After deleting the tweet, James, who has emerged as a prominent figure in the movement for racial justice, said later on Wednesday that his words had been twisted to create more racism and hate.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” he said, adding: “I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”