“All you got to do is look at the photos from the peaceful protests of what we were fighting for,” the Los Angeles Lakers star said, referring to Black Lives Matter protests.
“When we were out there, we were out there fighting for lives. What we saw yesterday, they’re talking about votes,” he added, speaking after Thursday’s loss at home to the San Antonio Spurs.
Over the summer, tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters filled the streets of cities across the US, calling for an end to police brutality after the deaths of more Black Americans last year at the hands of police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In cities including Washington, DC, the protesters were met with a heavy police response, tear gas and arrests.
But many pointed out the police response was different when crowds of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol this week, climbed the walls, roamed the halls and ransacked offices.
“We live in two Americas, and that was a prime example of that yesterday,” James said. “And if you don’t understand that or don’t see that after seeing what you saw yesterday then you really need to take a step back – not even just one step, maybe four or five or even 10 steps backwards and ask yourself… How do we want to live in this beautiful country? Because yesterday was not it.”
“Being a part of a household with three kids – two boys, a daughter – a wife, a mother-in-law and so many Black folks in my household during that time and it’s on the TV, I couldn’t help but to wonder, if those were my kind storming the Capitol, what would have been the outcome? And I think we all know. There’s no ifs, ands or buts.”
James said he saw a picture Wednesday that has been circulating online of “a Black man holding his daughter on top of his shoulders, and you’ve got a police officer with a shield on, with a gun pointed right at him or right at her.”
In contrast, there are other pictures now published of a “White guy walking inside the Capitol with his thumb up in the air,” James said.
“I mean, what more do I need to say to my kids than to just see the two differences? It’s right there, right there in their face.”
Other players and coaches across American sports also spoke out following the riots, voicing similar concerns as James on the double standard of policing.
“It reminds me of what Dr. Martin Luther King has said, that there is two split different Americas,” Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “In one America, you get killed by sleeping in your car, selling cigarettes or playing in your back yard. In the other America, you get to storm the Capitol, and no tear gas, no massive arrests, none of that.”
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.