Athletes including LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe and Colin Kaepernick spoke out after no police officers were charged with the death of Breonna Taylor

By Jason Duaine Hahn
September 24, 2020 03:16 PM
Advertisement
LeBron James, Breonna Taylor and Megan Rapinoe
Daniel Boczarski/Getty; Gareth Cattermole - FIFA/FIFA via Getty

Over the last few months, many professional athletes have expressed their support for social justice issues, especially concerning 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police officers while sleeping in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment on March 13.

Many have since called for the police officers involved in her death to be arrested. But on Wednesday, a grand jury ruled that only one officer would be charged — not for Taylor's death, but for first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly firing bullets that risked injury to people in neighboring apartments.

It was a devastating blow to athlete-activists who have used their platform to bring attention to police brutality since the May death of George Floyd. One of the most outspoken athletes during this time has been Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who shared a message on Twitter shortly after the decision was announced.

"I’ve been lost for words today! I’m devastated, hurt, sad, mad!" the 35-year-old said. "We want Justice for Breonna yet justice was met for her neighbors apartment walls and not her beautiful life. Was I surprised at the verdict. Absolutely not but damnit I was & still am hurt and heavy hearted! I send my love to Breonna mother, family and friends! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!"

In a powerful follow-up message, James said black women were "the most disrespected person on earth."

"I promise you I’ll do my best to change this as much as I can and even more!!" James wrote. "LOVE to you QUEENS all over this country and beyond!"

Other NBA stars also spoke out, including Brooklyn Nets forward Jamal Crawford, who said he wasn't surprised about the news.

"The cops that murdered Breonna Taylor knew this is how it would play out from the moment it happened," 40-year-old Crawford said on Twitter. "They were never worried about justice being served."

Los Angeles Clippers star and reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell expressed his dismay in a tweet that simply said he was "speechless." Harrell also posted a picture of himself next to his Sixth Man of the Year trophy, along with custom shoes that spelled out Taylor's name.

Breonna Taylor
Breonna Taylor/instagram

"I lived in [Louisville] for three years of my life and it became another home to me, but wow what’s happen?" he wrote. "These are the charges you actually come up with? Nothing to say but WOW SPEECHLESS!"

Added Utah Jazz star Donavan Mitchell: "I don’t have many words right now.... but all I can say is I’m praying for the city of Louisville right now!!!"

Layshia Clarendon of the WNBA's New York Liberty called for police departments to be "defunded and ultimately abolished."

"We time and time again hope for a sliver of justice but why would we get that when the system is designed to protect the very folks that are murdering and terrorizing us," she said. "This isn’t a bad apple, it’s a rotten tree."

Those sentiments were echoed by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who linked policing to white supremacy.

"The white supremacist institution of policing that stole Breonna Taylor’s life from us must be abolished for the safety and well being of our people," wrote Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

In a tweet, star Megan Rapinoe added: "My heart is with the family of Breonna Taylor right now. My god. This is devastating and unfortunately not surprising. Black and brown folx in this country deserve so much more."

RELATED VIDEO: 1 Officer Charged, 2 Cleared in Shooting Death of Breonna Taylor, Grand Jury Decides

Earlier this month the City of Louisville reached a $12 million settlement with Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In announcing the settlement, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer addressed Palmer, directly, saying, "I cannot begin to imagine Miss Palmer's pain, and I'm deeply, deeply sorry for Breonna's death."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.