Will LeBron James go on strike to protest a grand jury’s decision in the Tamir Rice police shooting case? Activists angered by Monday’s announcement that police officers involved in the November 22, 2014, fatal shooting of the 12-year-old boy in a Cleveland, Ohio, city park would face no charges have called on James — the most famous and highest-paid star in the National Basketball Association — to sit out games for his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, until the federal justice department addresses the Rice case.
James, 30, is a native of nearby Akron, Ohio, and was drafted directly out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School by his childhood favorite NBA team, the Cavaliers, in 2003. He played for the Cleveland team until 2010 when he signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat, remaining on that team for four seasons until returning to the Cavaliers in 2014.
James has spoken out on social issues in the past. In 2012, he was photographed with his Miami teammates wearing a black hoodie sweatshirt to protest the shooting of another African-American youth, Trayvon Martin, in Florida.
But whether James will respond to the Twitter hashtag movement #NoJusticeNoLeBron, which calls for him to protest the grand jury decision by refusing to play in Cavaliers games, remains to be determined.
The following video from a CNN report attempts to explain why the grand jury failed to hold the officers accountable for shooting and killing Rice, who was holding a toy Airsoft gun that police on the scene feared was a real weapon.
The Twitter calls for LeBron James to stage what amounts to a wildcat strike was started by activist and author Tariq Touré on Monday.
— TariqTouré (@TariqToure) December 29, 2015
The hashtag was quickly picked up by numerous other Twitter users, who pleaded with James to sit out the Cavaliers Monday night game against the Phoenix Suns in Arizona.
— Benjamin YoungSavage (@benjancewicz) December 29, 2015
— Orit (@Empress_Orit) December 29, 2015
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) December 29, 2015
#NoJusticeNoLebron Please, please do not play tonight. Tamir and the rest of us need you not to.
— Bae Guevara (@Thug_Scholar) December 29, 2015
But James did, in fact, play in that game, which his team won by a 101-97 score. After the game, it was unclear whether James was aware of the Twitter #NoJusticeNoLeBron hashtag and did not offer any comment on the demands that he lead protests against the Tamir Rice shooting decision.
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Numerous Twitter users cited African-American athletes of the 1960s such as boxer Muhammad Ali, who forfeited his world heavyweight championship and accepted a ban from boxing — which lasted until it was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971 after four years — and risked prison rather than allow himself to be drafted into the Vietnam War.
They also cited 1968 Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, whose raised-fist salute on the medals stand became an iconic image of what was then called the Black Power movement.
— Asha Abdi (@Asha_Abdi) December 29, 2015
But others said that singling out James, in effect conscripting him into the Tamir Rice protests, was unfair to the NBA superstar.
And how unfair is it to place that kind of burden on one person? Playing activist w/ someone else’s wallet isn’t cool. #NoJusticeNoLebron
— Brian Bush (@BrianCBush) December 29, 2015
To everyone on the #NoJusticeNoLebron hashtag. You do realize he has a contractual obligation to play? Spectators should boycott the games.
— Tope Oyerinde (@topeoyerinde) December 29, 2015
“The truth is it’s more than fair to ask professional black athletes to stand up for important societal issues, but it’s unfair to limit that demand to one man as a test of his ‘blackness’ or his dedication to his people and their issues,” wrote Lincoln A. Blades on Tuesday.
“When I first heard about the #NoJusticeNoLeBron hashtag, I immediately wondered why it wasn’t framed as #NoJusticeNoNBA? Why must the brunt of the heavy lifting be limited to LeBron James when the scourge of excessive police violence effects black folks nationwide?”
As of Tuesday afternoon, LeBron James had yet to make a public statement regarding the grand jury decision in the Tamir Rice shooting case.
[Photo By David Maxwell/Getty Images]