As sheriff of Los Angeles County, California, and subsequently one of America’s most populous cities, Alex Villanueva, undoubtedly has had to make some tough decisions over the years. I have not always been a fan of very many, such has his decision last month to refuse to cooperate any longer with ICE in just about any facet. However, one of his most recent statements has earned at least a small bit of my respect back.
If you haven’t heard, someone ambushed and shot two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies over the weekend, critically injuring both. Naturally, as their boss and the leading law enforcement officer in the county, Villanueva is calling for justice to be done. His office, as well as the FBI and US Marshals, are on a heated hunt for the shooter and any information that can be found about the incident.
To help them in their efforts, a reward has been offered for any information that leads to the suspect’s capture and arrest. The prize began as $100,000, as provided by the county, but after two people donated thousands more, it has risen to $175,000, according to KABC Radio.
But Villanueva says there should be more money on the table, and he knows just who should be the one to lay it down: Lebron James.
That’s right. Sheriff Villanueva has challenged the famous basketball star to match the funds already offered, doubling the amount of the reward.
According to a recent interview with Villanueva, “This challenge is to Lebron James. I want you to match that and double that reward. I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer-involved shootings and the impact that it has on the African-American community. And I appreciate that.”
However, Villanueva wants James to prove that he isn’t out for just one race or profession.
The sheriff continued, “we need to appreciate that respect for life goes across professions, across race, creeds, and I’d like to see Lebron James step up to the plat and double that.”
He says that a well-known sports figure, and one who has spoken about race and police issues in the past, Lebron is the perfect position to make positive changes to our communities.
Villanueva says that these deputies are just “out there doing their job and yet we have people fanning the flames of hatred and just turning up the volume when we don’t need it. We need to be turning it down. Particularly our elected officials and civic leaders and sports figures, they need to start emphasizing trust in the system, due process.”
And he makes a good point.
James, as a man who took on the cause of Black Lives Matter for the NBA as a whole, it would seem, has spoken increasingly about the need for equality of races in recent months, even staging walkouts of certain events to draw attention to this. And while Villanueva is not asking him to stop doing this, he is saying that if you are going to talk about these issues in such public light, then you also have the responsibility to not “fan the flames,” to step and say that fighting for equality is needed, the violence that has so recently become associated with the cause is not.
If Lebron James did what Villanueva is challenging him to do, it would signify to the world that BLM and its cause does not have to include violence. It would let the world know that he and BLM disapprove of the chaos. That we can support change, even drastic ones, without supporting the kind of physical harm we have seen of late.
James might also find that more people might be perceptive of what he is saying if they knew that he wasn’t condoning violence or hatred of the police. After all, isn’t that what his presidential candidate of choice is doing? Condemning the violence and acknowledging the need for police?
But as I write this, it is a full two days after Villanueva’s challenge has been offered, and still, there is no reply from Lebron. I doubt there ever will be. Looks like ‘white silence’ isn’t the only thing equal to violence.