LeBron James urges Cleveland to support Cavaliers as the protest acquittal of police officer Michael Brelo

Basketball player James has encouraged the city of Cleveland to channel their passion into the game

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The Independent Online

Basketball player LeBron James has spoken out about the Cleveland protests, and said that his team will mirror the passion of those demonstrating.

The acquittal of white police office Michael Brelo has sparked peaceful protests. Brelo shot two unarmed black citizens - Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell - as they sat in a car in 2012.

He fired 49 shots at the pair during and after a 22-mile car chase.

Brelo - one of 13 officers who fired a total of 137 shots at Williams and Russell - was cleared of all charges, including voluntary manslaughter. He was the only officer to face charges.

This has stoked civil unrest in the US, following protests and Baltimore and Ferguson after a series of fatalities involving police officers and unarmed black suspects.

"For the city of Cleveland, let's use our excitement or whatever passion that we have for our sport tomorrow for the game tomorrow night, bring [it] to the game tomorrow night, and as our team, we'll try to do our best to give it back to them," James said on Saturday.


ESPN.com reported that James added: "Violence is not the answer, and it's all about trying to find a solution for good or for bad.

"For me, in any case, anything that goes on in our world or in our America, the only people that we should be worried about [are] the families that [have] lost loved ones.

"You can't get them back. You can never get them back. We should worry about the families and how they're doing."

Protesters outside the court held up signs saying "Will I be next?" and chanted: "Hands up don't shoot!"

As part of the protests, 200 people held a mock funeral procession through Cleveland.

In December 2014, James wore a basketball vest saying: "I can't breathe".

This was in memory of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, who was choked to death while being restrained by police officers. He was heard shouting: "I can't breathe" multiple times while officers held him down.