LeBron James used the LA Lakers’ opening NBA play-off game to take a powerful stand against racial inequality, with the basketball great arriving at the AdventHealth Arena wearing a red cap that read ‘Make America arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor’.
The cap also featured the words ‘Great Again’ crossed out in what was a clear message to President Donald Trump to call for justice for Taylor’s death at the hands of police officers, and James was also absent from the national anthem ahead of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
His LA Lakers teammates also wore the parody cap of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, with Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, and JR Smith all seen arriving wearing it.
James also wore a T-shirt displaying the message ‘By Any Means’, with the 35-year-old posting the same words on his Instagram profile on Tuesday night and adding ‘#JusticeforBreonnaTaylor’.
Taylor was shot dead in her Louisville home on 26 March by police officers who have not faced any action for the killing. Her death was followed by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officers, with one forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes despite repeated complaints that he could not breathe.
The killings are among those that have seen the Black Lives Matter movement receive worldwide support in the campaign against racial injustice and police brutality, with the incidents leading to protests across America, both peaceful and violent, which were strongly condemned by Trump.
The decision to wear the caps by the Lakers players keeps the spotlight on Taylor’s killing and the pursuit for those responsible to face action, and James has previously spoken about the need for justice to be served.
“The same energy that we have on the floor is the same energy that we have towards having justice for Breonna Taylor and her family,” James said last month. “That's the energy that we bring to the game. That's just who we are.
“We want the cops arrested who committed that crime. As one of the leaders of this league, I want Taylor's family to know and the state of Kentucky to know … we want justice. And that's what it's all about. What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong. And this is a wrong situation that's going on.”
James was also among dozens of prominent black athletes and artists who joined the More Than A Vote campaign, which will aim to combat “systemic, targeted voter suppression in our community” ahead of the upcoming 2020 US presidential election, with an aim to deliver a “specific mission: educate, energize and protect Black voters”.
A signed letter released on Monday, which included James’ signature and that of Super Bowl-winning quarter-back Patrick Mahomes, was aimed at people of every race, age and gender, and said that it will not tell people who to vote for, but rather educate them about how voter suppression works in silencing the black community.
“Black voters matter more than ever,” the letter read, “because these Black voters have so much influence, they will be more aggressively targeted by forces of suppression. Many in power who oppose our fight for change believe it is easier to cancel one of our votes than to find a new vote of their own.”
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