NBA superstar LeBron James spoke up about the fatal incidents of recent weeks involving white police officers and black men, and the public outrage they have generated across the United States, and said that “violence is not the answer.” The 29-year-old basketball star arrived in New York on Thursday, a day after a grand jury decision not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
“It doesn't matter, it's more troubling that it's happening in our country," James said, according to the New York Daily News, before taking on the New York Knicks. "This is our country, the land of the free, and we keep having these incidents happen, innocent victims or whatever the case may be.
"Our families are losing loved ones. I'm not pointing the blame at anybody that's making it happen. In society, we've come a long way, but it just goes to show how much further we still have to go,” the Cavaliers star reportedly said.
In Cleveland, authorities are dealing with the fallout of the shooting death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was shot and killed by a police officer within seconds of arriving at the scene to investigate a complaint that the boy was carrying a gun.
When asked if other athletes should also publicly address the recent spate of police violence and the violent protests that have followed in their wake, James reportedly said that it did not matter who spoke out about such incidents.
“If it hits home for you, then you have the right to speak on it,” James reportedly said. “That's why we have freedom of speech.
"I've never shied away for something that I feel for or people or families that I feel for. That's just who I am. But I don't think we should add pressure to anybody,” he added.
Amar'e Stoudemire of the Knicks also spoke out after losing against the Cavaliers on Thursday night, expressing his disappointment over not being a part of the protests in New York.
"I think it's something that's, it's very alarming in our country as far as that's concerned," Stoudemire said, according to ESPN. "We have to be more conscientious of what the law enforcement's job is, and that's to protect and serve. Those two words are very strong when you think about that.
"Your first job is to protect, and your second job is to serve. Obviously it's not happening that way. So we've got to figure out a way to create a better economic unity for all of the have-nots."
Meanwhile, New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who is a St. Louis native, reportedly spoke about the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9.
"Destroying Ferguson is not what I wanted to come from the verdict of the grand jury," Richardson reportedly said. "I wanted my whole city to stay intact. I don't think we'll bounce back from that -- the area of Ferguson, anyway. That's just how I feel about it. I just want my hometown to stay as peaceful as possible, but I don't blame them. I know where they're coming from, but that's not the solution."
Less than two weeks ago, James had reacted to the Ferguson incident and expressed his regret over the violent protests and looting that followed the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson.
“As a society how do we do better and stop things like this happening time after time!! I'm so sorry to these families,” James wrote on his Instagram account, at the time.