Wednesday in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a black man named Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by police as they were attempting to serve a warrant. It’s a tragic story; but as of this writing, virtually no details are known about what happened, and the bodycam footage has yet to be released. Maybe racist police officers gunned him down for no reason, or maybe he pulled out an AR-15 and opened fire on them, or it could be anything in between. As of this moment, nobody knows. Yet it’s already being treated as if it’s that first scenario: another senseless police shooting of an unarmed black man.
I am going to do something revolutionary here and not give a lot of unfounded opinions based on assumptions without facts. Lebron James just gave us a great example of what happens when you do that.
James tweeted out a photo of the officer who shot a black teenage girl in Columbus with the words “YOU’RE NEXT” on it. It’s unclear whether he meant prosecution a la Derek Chauvin or an implicit threat of violence of the type you should be responsible enough not to send out when you’re a prominent figure and role model who has millions of followers, some of whom might not be all that stable.
When James received blowback over the fact that the officer actually stopped that girl who was charging at another black girl with a knife in her upraised hand, and that he likely saved the other girl’s life, he deleted the tweet. When he discovered it had been saved and circulated, he accused his critics of using his tweet to create more hate and racism, adding the hashtag, “#ACCOUNTABILITY.”
I’m with him; I’d like to see people take more accountability for not thinking before they click that “Tweet” button.
It would also be nice to see the media take some accountability for pushing false and misleading narratives that inflame violence and racial divisions. Looking at you, NBC News.