As he watched the news on television, it did not just bother Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James that Donald Trump supporters rioted inside and outside the Capitol building. James was also upset by how law enforcement responded much differently to those rioters compared to the last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.
“I couldn’t help but to wonder if those were my kind storming the Capitol, what would’ve been the outcome? I think we all know,” James said following the Lakers’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. “It’s no ifs, ands or buts. We already know what would’ve happened to my kind if anyone had gotten close to the Capitol, let alone storm inside the offices and inside the hallways.”
There were four deaths and 52 arrests as thousands of Trump supporters took part in the riots. But that paled in comparison to the 14,000 arrests police made this past summer during mostly peaceful protests against racial injustice. Then, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to deal with peaceful protestors and occasional vandals and looters. On Wednesday, police mostly dealt with Trump supporters that invaded the Capitol with little force.
Those images gave James plenty of material to show his two sons, 16-year-old Bronny, and 13-year-old Bryce, and daughter, 5-year-old Zhuri, “how we live in two Americas.”
“All you have to do is look at the photos,” James said. “I saw the picture yesterday of a black man holding his daughter on top of his shoulders and you got a police officer with a shield on with a gun pointed right at him or right at her. It could’ve been rubber bullets on the inside. It could’ve been real bullets. We’ve all seen that photo. On the contrary, you got this white guy walking inside the Capitol with his thumb up in the air holding a podium in his hand. What more do I need to say to my kids than to see the two differences?”
The Lakers offered more visual imagery to highlight the racist double standard in how police have handled protests and to call for racial equality.
Following Wednesday’s game, James wore a shirt that said “Do you understand now?” James had the same message written on his shoes during the game.
“It’s unfair to try to get people to understand. But we want people to listen,” James said. “There’s some things you can’t understand because you don’t grow up how we grew up. You don’t live in the same environment that we live in. You don’t see the fact that when we walk out of our homes and we walk out of our project buildings that we’re scared to death right off the bat. We’re afraid of the police. That’s just how I grew up. When you see the police, you ran the other way. You don’t feel like it’s protection. You never feel like it’s protection.”
Following Wednesday’s game, Lakers forward Anthony Davis wore a shirt that read “Fear of a Black Planet.”
“I just think that it’s funny how when Black Lives Matter have protests and we want to get our point across in the streets, for the most part having peaceful protests, we get attacked and assaulted and violence happens and things like that. On the other side, it’s a double standard. An entire group runs into the nation’s Capitol and gets escorted out the front door like everything’s okay,” Davis said. “When Black Lives Matter was protesting, it was, ‘Once the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ Well, to my knowledge, if you take something, you’re looting. In that case, for them they get escorted out the front door, it’s a slap in the face to us. It feels like we’re going backwards.”
The Lakers and other NBA teams harbored frustrations over the riots at the Capitol and Kenosha police not facing any charges for the shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man who was paralyzed. So before Wednesday’s game, Lakers and Spurs players and coaches locked arms with the officiating crew at center court during the national anthem. The Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors performed a similar gesture Tuesday.
“We just can’t give up hope no matter what goes on. As a brotherhood in the league and as an African American myself, we can’t allow ourselves to lose hope because of not seeing change,” Davis said. “That’s what people want. They want us to lose hope and lose faith and fade away, and let the idea of change fade away and us do nothing.”
Therefore, James declined to shut up and dribble. Instead, he spoke candidly on various topics.
James held Trump primarily responsible for some of his supporters participating in an insurrection at the U. S. Capitol. Trump has frequently called his election loss “rigged” and encouraged his supporters to protest Congress formally certifying Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victory.
“The events that took place yesterday was a direct correlation of the president that is in the seat right now, his actions, his beliefs, his wishes,” James said. “He cares about nobody besides himself. Nobody. Absolutely nobody. He doesn’t care about this country. He doesn’t care about his family. He doesn’t care about anybody besides himself.”
James found parallels between the pro-Trump rioters and the KKK, which is considered a terrorist hate group.
“The KKK and the rags over their faces, now they’re just hiding under certain other costumes,” James said. “They’re going under other costumes that you saw yesterday in the Capitol. You can’t sit here and say that those aren’t terrorists. We keep saying they aren’t protestors. They’re not protestors. What are they protesting? Knocking down walls, knocking down the gates of the nation’s Capitol?”
James contended the country took “a step forward” with electing Biden and Kamala Harris. But James argued “we literally (expletive) away four years” during Trump’s presidency.
“I grew up knowing America was the land of the free and home of the brave,” James said. “We set an example for all of these other countries in the world to run things and how to be great and how to maneuver and change the world and things of that nature. Yesterday, we looked like a third-, fourth- or fifth-world country. It’s just very embarrassing. I hope we can be better.”
James then stood up and left. He spoke for 11 minutes, only about the state of the world and nothing about the Lakers’ game. James was agitated and concerned about the state of the country.
“We live in two Americas,” James said. “If you don’t understand that or see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, you really need to take a step back. Not even just one step. Maybe four or five or even ten steps backwards.”
This Post was originally published on usatoday.com