In the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict two Cleveland police officers in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, some activists are calling on hometown hero LeBron James to join the protest.
Rice was shot and killed in the fall of 2014, when officers opened fire after allegedly perceiving a pellet gun in his possession to be a real gun. The defense argued successfully that the officers had reasonable cause to fear for their lives since they didn’t know that it was not a deadly weapon. Prosecutors called the incident a “perfect storm” of human error.
After the decision was announced Monday, the hashtag #NoJusticeNoLeBron has picked up steam on social media, with users imploring the two-time NBA champion and Cleveland Cavaliers icon to sit out games in protest of the grand jury’s decision.
Supporters of hashtag have referenced the near-boycott launched by black football players earlier this year with the support of their coach at the University of Missouri, over the then-college president’s handling of racial tensions on campus. The school system president’s decision to step down shortly after the boycott threat was made has been widely viewed as direct result of concerns over loss of revenue should the football team forfeit future games.
Although it’s unlikely that James would sit out games in protest, he has shown a willingness to ally himself with the victims of gun violence.
He participated in a Miami Heat team photo in 2012 in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s shooting death in Florida. James and his teammates posed in hoodies with their heads bowed, a nod to the clothing Martin was wearing when he was killed.
In 2014, James wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt, a reference to the last words of Eric Garner, who died after an apparent chokehold by NYPD officers that summer.
The NBA star has yet to publicly discuss the Rice case or the calls for him to symbolically sit out games. The hashtag has provoked debate about whether putting James on the hook is a fair or constructive strategy in response to the grand jury’s decision.
This story first appeared at MSNBC.com.