LeBron James has consistently spoken out against police brutality on social media and during interviews, and recently shared his anger over Jacob Blake being shot last month by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Some of James’ detractors accused him of inciting violence against police officers and those claims grew louder when two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were shot in Compton, California, on Saturday, Sept. 12. while sitting in their patrol car. The shooting has been described as an ambush and both officers have survived.
The NBA star was asked about the claim that his activism led to the police shootings, and he said violence isn’t part of his plan to improve things for 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 Tuesday at the interview’s 3:18 mark.
He was speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Sept. 22, after his Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Denver Nuggets 114-106 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida.
James then said he’s seen Black people being racially profiled and mistreated by police officers his entire life.
“I’m not saying that all cops are bad,” he explained. “But when you see the videos that’s going on and you can see all over, 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 what’s going on in our community is not OK.”
Some of the people who blamed the police shootings on James include conservative provocateur Candace Owens, who in September wrote, “Pea-brained celebrities that are idolized like @KingJames tell young Black men that they are ‘literally being hunted.’ This is the natural result of such hyperbolic, dishonest rhetoric.”
Additionally, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva challenged James to match, then double the reward money that’s being offered to find the Compton shooter. But James wouldn’t comment on the sheriff’s request at the news conference.
“I do not condone violence towards anyone,” stated James. “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, and I have zero comment on the sheriff.”
Besides being vocal about police brutality, James joined other NBA players by kneeling for the national anthem in July at the restart of the season to make a statement about racism. Reportedly, he was also one of the players who considered boycotting the remainder of the season over Blake being shot.