In an interview with KABC Talk Radio’s John Phillips Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva challenged NBA star LeBron James to double the amount of reward money available in the ongoing hunt for the person who ambushed two of his deputies Saturday night and shot them in the head.
On Sunday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person/people responsible for the attack. Villanueva told Phillips that private individuals had pledged another $75,000, then challenged James to match the current reward amount:
I want to make a challenge. This challenge is to LeBron James. I want you to match that and double that reward because I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very, 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. But likewise, we need to appreciate that respect for life goes across professions, across races, creeds, and I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.
Phillips pointed out that James sometimes avoids critical political issues for his own benefit, like the human rights abuses committed by the Chinese government, but that as a Laker, James is a stakeholder in the Los Angeles community – and there’s no bigger issue in Los Angeles at this time than finding the shooter. Villanueva replied:
Let’s see what he does. I’ll be very curious to see what his response is, if any. We’ve gotta get people to start thinking the big picture. Words have consequences. We need to tone down the rhetoric. We need to obviously get rid of the violence and spend more time trying to understand each other instead of condemning each other, particularly when people are voicing their opinions as if they’re facts when they’re not. And more of that will come out later.
Villanueva has been at odds with the Board of Supervisors since the moment he was elected and had a bit of a war going on with them this year. It’s refreshing to hear these words from him but sad that it came to this point before we’ve heard them.
Regardless, he’s correct. Let’s see if you’ll stand up for the men and women who keep you safe, LeBron.