ESPN SportsCenter co-host Sage Steele is facing backlash for a social media post that followed a message from a Los Angeles Police Department officer to LeBron James for tweeting about Columbus, Ohio, police officer Nicholas Reardon, who shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant on Tuesday, April 20, in Columbus.
On Tuesday, April 27, Steele tweeted a praying hands emoji in a reply to a CBS Los Angeles post about LAPD officer Deon Joseph. Joseph offered to educate James about the day-to-day challenges of police work after James made what the officer saw as an “irresponsible and disturbing” tweet about Reardon.
Fans were not happy about Steele’s tweet and decided to respond. One person said, “cops kill around 1,000 people a year and the majority of them are unarmed when killed. that’s the reality that needs discussion.” Another person tweeted, “Does it bother you knowing your a coon ? Or your white counterparts brainwashed you.”
“Theses people tolerate everything from racists to get white acceptance. Here is the same black woman, playing: “My white boyfriend touch my hair for the first time 🥰” someone tweeted referring to the time Steele allowed UFC fighter Chael Sonnen to touch her hair. Another called out Steele because “We never hear you speaking out about injustice .. ever.” Steele has yet to respond to those opposing her controversial tweet.
However, she did have at least one person who agreed with her thoughts about the officer and LeBron talking. They said, “Anyone who is against this, does not want us to heal as a community.”
After it was announced that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin received a guilty verdict in the death of George Floyd, plenty of people including celebrities, James being one of them, rejoiced on Twitter. However, on that same day, news broke about Ma’Khia Bryant being shot by Reardon. Following the news, the Los Angeles Lakers player put up a photo of Reardon and tweeted, “YOU’RE NEXT. #ACCOUNTABILITY.”
James, who received a lot of backlash from his tweet, decided to take it down, but not without responding to his critics. He tweeted, “I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
In response to James’ two tweets, Joseph wrote a lengthy Facebook message on Sunday, April 25. He said, “Dear Lebron: I am not going to come at you from a place of hatred. There will be no name calling. I was raised to see the whole of a human being. Not to hyper focus on their flaws or make said flaws the whole of who they are. I’m an honest man. What you do for children, and other acts of charity shows a huge heart. You show to be a family man, and that’s to be respected. You play for the team my family has cheered for since the 1960s, then myself since 1979.
But… 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 a moment. You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack. A decision I know he and many others wish they never had to make. Especially when it involves someone so young.”
Turning his attention to the 36-year-old’s follow-up tweet, he said, “Instead of apologizing, you deflected. You said you took your tweet 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.”
Although a majority of BLM supporters and people in marginalized communities are typically on one accord about police shootings, Bryant’s shooting is one that has caused both division and opposing opinions. While many are still enraged that the 16-year-old has been killed, others are claiming the officer was doing his job by saving another lady potentially from being stabbed by Bryant.
The Columbus Division of Police released bodycam footage of Reardon getting out of his car to respond to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing. The video shows Bryant lunging at another lady with a knife in her right hand. Reardon can be heard telling the teenager to “get down” four times before shooting her four times in the chest as she attempted to jump on the other lady. Bryant, who was shot 20 minutes before the announcement of Chauvin’s verdict, was pronounced dead later at the hospital.
Some of Bryant’s family and bystanders of the incident say Bryant was the one who called the police and was using the knife to defend herself against adult women who were trying to fight her. Additionally, others argue that there have been situations where heavily armed white men were able to be disarmed and taken into custody without being killed.
But those in defense of Reardon, like former police chief and Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings, believe Reardon “responded as he was trained to do.” Also, DJ Envy of “The Breakfast Club” said on Monday’s show that Reardon “doesn’t know friend or foe. He doesn’t know who called the police,” adding that “that cop protected that young girl.”