Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James weighed in on the Tamir Rice case for the first time on Tuesday, following a social media campaign urging him to sit out games in protest following a grand jury’s decision not to indict two Cleveland police officers who shot and killed the 12-year-old last year, after mistaking his pellet gun for a deadly weapon.
James, who has shown solidarity with the victims of gun violence in the past, said he hadn’t spoken out on the Rice case previously because he didn’t feel informed enough to do so.
“For me, I’ve always been a guy who’s took pride in knowledge of every situation that I’ve ever spoke on,” James said after a winning game against the Denver Nuggets, according to ESPN. “And to be honest, I haven’t really been on top of this issue. So it’s hard for me to comment. I understand that any lives that [are] lost, what we want more than anything is prayer and the best for the family, for anyone. But for me to comment on the situation, I don’t have enough knowledge about it.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a #NoJusticeNoLeBron hashtag began to pick up steam on social media. Spearheaded by Baltimore-based activist Tariq Touré, the campaign called on James to sit out upcoming Cavaliers games to put pressure on the Department of Justice to “imprison the murderers of Tamir Rice.” On Monday, a grand jury chose not to indict, believing the officers had a “reasonable” fear for the loss of their lives, in a case that prosecutors called a “perfect storm” of human error.
The #NoJusticeNoLeBron concept has inspired impassioned support, as well as some backlash, but James said he hadn’t been following the fallout on Tuesday, because he is “not much of a social media guy.”
“I caught a little bit of it from my folks on the side saying that you guys might ask me about it, but I have no knowledge,” James said.
“First of all, I think I’ve been very outspoken about what I believe in,” he added. “What hits home for me, what I am [knowledgeable] about. There’s been so many more issues that’s gone on that I haven’t spoken about. There’s been the San Bernardino massacre, there’s been guys going in movie theaters, shooting up movie theaters, there’s been other issues. Those are not something that … I don’t have much knowledge of so I don’t speak about it. So for me … if I feel like it’s something that I have a lot of knowledge about [I’ll add my voice to the issue], because I don’t like to speak when I don’t know about it.”
Still, James had some pointed remarks to make about the nature of the Rice tragedy and what he feels is an appropriate response.
“I think the most important thing that we all need to understand, the most important thing, this issue is bigger than LeBron. This issue is bigger than me; it’s about everyone. And gun violence and tragedies and kids losing lives at a young age, some way, somehow we need to understand that that matters more than just an individual,” he said.
The two officers involved in the Tamir Rice shooting may not face criminal prosecution but are currently under administrative review, and at least one Cleveland City Council member has floated the idea of pursuing negligent homicide charges against them.