Deon Joseph, a Black police officer and 24-year veteran of the LAPD, recently wrote a letter to Lebron James to address his radical stance against law enforcement.
Joseph, who has worked in Los Angeles’ Skid Row area for two decades, invited the basketball star to a one-on-one discussion following James’ recent controversial Tweet.
The four-time NBA Champion holds outspoken views about racism in law enforcement. Following the shooting of teenager Ma’Khia Bryant, who was killed as she was attacking people with a knife, Lebron tweeted an image of a Columbus, Ohio, police officer with the caption “YOU’RE NEXT,” and the hashtag “#ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Joseph’s letter, posted on Facebook, addressed the Laker player personally, while defending the actions of the officer in the shooting and those in the law enforcement profession, and criticizing James’ hateful attitude.
“Your current stance on policing is so off base and extreme. Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing. It showed a complete lack of understanding of the challenge of our job in the heat of a moment,” the officer wrote.
He then accused James of not taking responsibility for his actions.
He wrote, “Instead of apologizing, you deflected. You said you took your tweet down because you did not want it to be used for hate, when the tweet itself was the embodiment of hatred, rooted in a lack of understanding of the danger of the situation.”
Joseph then reached out and requested a private discussion, while standing up for his law enforcement brothers and sisters.
“I don’t know if this will ever reach you, but my hope is that one day I can sit down with you and talk,” he said. He continued, “But I do feel I can help you understand the reality of the profession of policing, and that there is another side you need to hear. You are tired of Black folks dying? So am I. You hate racism and police brutality? So do I. But you cannot paint 800,000 men and women who are of all races, faiths, sexual orientations and are also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, preachers, coaches, community members and just human with such a broad and destructive brush,” he wrote.
The LAPD veteran said that the community has to come together rather than constantly divide.
“The offer is on the table Lebron. No cameras. No fanfare. Just two men who care talking. I know it’s a long shot. But this division and hatred must stop. It’s clear based on rising crime in marginalized communities that cops and the community need to build bridges to save lives on all sides,” he wrote.
He ended the letter by thanking James for “all the positive things you do.”
Joseph told Fox News about his reasoning behind the letter, explaining that he sympathizes with the NBA star’s feelings, and that he used to be like him.
“I was LeBron James before I became a police officer. I did not want to be a police officer at all. Being young and African American growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s, which were very violent and turbulent times, I thought that the police were basically our natural enemy. It’s almost like a rite of passage — if you’re African American, you have to hate the police,” he explained.
Joseph then implied that James is a victim of the division and “gaslighting” created by the media.
He is also a victim, just like I was,” Joseph said about the NBA star. “If I wasn’t a police officer and all I saw in the media 24/7 was ‘The police hate Black people.’ ‘The police are out to get people of color.’ I would probably feel the same way.”
He then said the purpose for his letter was to show that two men on opposing sides could sit down and talk peacefully. “We need to stop the tribalism and the dehumanization of each other,” he stressed.