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U.S. Capitol siege shows ‘we live in two Americas’

LOS ANGELES — A day after a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, Los Angeles Lakers captain LeBron James wondered what would have happened if the group of insurgents was mostly Black people, and blamed the mayhem on President Donald Trump.

“We live in two Americas,” James said Thursday following the Lakers’ 118-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. “And that was a prime example of that yesterday, 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, but maybe four or five, or even 10 steps backwards and ask yourself how do you want your kids, or how do you want your grandkids, or how do we want America to be viewed as? Do we want to live in this beautiful country?”

James, wearing a black shirt with the message “Do You Understand Now?” in block letters, said he watched news coverage of Wednesday’s rioting showing a largely white mob being met by a relatively passive police force. He said it made him think of how he and his family — his wife, three children and mother-in-law, all of whom are Black — would be treated in the same situation.

“If those were my kind storming the Capitol, what would have been the outcome? And I think we all know,” James said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts — we already know what would’ve happened to my kind if anyone would have even got close to the Capitol, let alone storm inside the offices, inside the hallways.”

James’ teammate Anthony Davis echoed the sentiment, contrasting how Black Lives Matter protesters were met by police force all over the country during the summer.

“It’s like a double standard,” said Davis, who wore a shirt featuring the title of Public Enemy’s 1990 album “Fear of Black Planet” stitched on its chest. “On the other side, an entire group runs into the nation’s Capitol and get escorted out the front door like everything is OK.

“And if I’m not mistaken — well, I’m not mistaken — they did take things, and when the Black Lives Matter [movement] protested it was, ‘Once the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ And to my knowledge, if you take something, you’re looting. And in that case, for them, they got escorted out the front door. And it’s just a slap in the face to us. It feels like we’re going backwards. We thought we were seeing change and then this happens.”

In May, Trump tweeted, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” threatening military action in response to the social justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was in police custody in Minneapolis when he died from an officer kneeling on his neck.

James, who has had a public back-and-forth with Trump dating back years, said the outgoing president is culpable for what happened Wednesday.

“The events that took place yesterday was a direct correlation of the president that’s in the seat right now — of his actions, his beliefs, his wishes,” James said. “He cares about nobody besides himself. Nobody. Absolutely nobody. He doesn’t care about this country. He doesn’t care about his family. He doesn’t care about anybody besides himself.”

In 2016, James, while standing in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room on the night Trump was elected, openly wondered if he would be better off moving out of the country. He said Thursday night that it was a damaging presidential term for the country.

“Four years ago, I sat there and said this is the beginning of the end for our country. And hopefully it only lasts four years,” James said. “But the one thing you can’t get back in life, one thing you can never get back, and that’s time. Can’t get back time. We’ve literally just s—ted away four years. How do we recoup that?”

Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol, which resulted in five deaths and the resignation of the Capitol Police chief, came hours before Joe Biden was officially certified to be the 46th president of the United States when Congress affirmed the Electoral College count of 306-232.

James said he believed Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris offer hope for the country.

“We took a step forward in November by electing Joe and Kamala to be in the White House, for them to be the head of our country,” James said. “That is a step forward.”

Davis said that the Lakers’ and Spurs’ demonstration before the game — locking arms with one another in a circle at center court while the national anthem played — was meant to continue to inspire unity during a difficult time.

“We just can’t give up hope. No matter what goes on. As a brotherhood in the league and as an African American myself, we can’t allow ourselves to lose hope just because of we’re not seeing change,” Davis said. “That’s what people want. They want us to lose hope, lose faith and let us fade away. Let the idea of change fade away. And us do nothing. … We got to continue to be unified and stay in solidarity to make sure that we stay strong through all of this.”

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