Deon Joseph, a Los Angeles Police Department officer who is well known for his outreach with the homeless on skid row, has written NBA basketball star LeBron James an open letter on police after James’ tweet on a controversial Ohio police shooting.
Joseph wrote James that his tweet on the Ma’Khia Bryant shooting was “irresponsible and disturbing,” but he asked James for a one-on-one meeting without media to discuss the challenges faced by law enforcement.
James had tweeted a picture of Nicholas Reardon, the Columbus police officer who shot 16-year-old Bryant as she attacked a female with a knife. The shooting remains under investigation. “You’re Next,” and the word “accountability,” his tweet said.
James later deleted the tweet, posting this explanation, “I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the Tweet down because it’s being used to create more hate. This isn’t about one officer. It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
His tweet generated a great deal of controversy online, with former President Donald Trump weighing in and calling James a “racist.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Joseph Wrote That Police Are ‘Not the Monsters You Have Come to Believe We Are’
Here is Joseph’s letter to LeBron James in full. The officer posted it on his Facebook page on April 25, 2021.
I am not going to come at you from a place of hatred. There will be no name calling. I was raised to see the whole of a human being. Not to hyper focus on their flaws or make said flaws the whole of who they are. I’m an honest man.
What you do for children, and other acts of charity shows a huge heart. You show to be a family man, and that’s to be respected. You play for the team my family has cheered for since the 1960s, then myself since 1979. But… 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. You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack.
A decision I know he and many others wish they never had to make. Especially when it involves someone so young.
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.
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. As a man of faith, I can have no hatred toward you. 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.
Unlike some who have dug their heals in the belief that police are inherently evil, I think if you yourself actually sat down and had a real honest and open conversation with a cop, there is a strong chance you may discover we are not the monsters you have come to believe we are, who deserve the hate and distain you have.
And even if you come away feeling the same way, I could respect it, because at least you gave the other side your ear instead of only hearing one narrative.
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. That cannot be done through the demonization of any group of people.
Just putting it out in the universe brother. Even if not me, please take the time to talk to a police officer instead of judging them. No shade. Thanks for all the positive things you do.
Who Is Deon Joseph?
According to his website, Officer Deon Joseph “is a law enforcement consultant who has worked for the LAPD for over 24 years, twenty-two of those years in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row community.”
“From patrolling the streets or providing a shoulder for the community to lean on to meeting with public figures and advocating for change, Deon is driven to create an environment conducive to change for the homeless and those trying to reclaim their lives from the grip of addiction. He is an honest, faithful, passionate and caring man – traits he pours into his daily life and activities,” his website says.
It adds: “For the past ten years, Deon has served as Senior Lead Officer in charge of safety of the people that live on Skid Row. Deon was able to help change the culture of Skid Row along with his fellow officers, via a grassroots approach as opposed to handcuffs. Over time, Deon discovered that he could not simply make arrests with any hopes of making lasting changes on Skid Row. Coupled with reducing crime in Skid Row, Deon helped build a better relationship between the LAPD and the homeless population they serve. Deon is considered a subject matter expert on Skid Row crime and culture and has been sought out by multiple news organizations, filmmakers, and politicians to speak on issues related to Skid Row.”
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