Kushner says he will reach out to LeBron James amid boycott over Jacob Blake shooting
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said Thursday he planned to contact Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James following a decision by NBA players to sit out Wednesday night’s playoff games to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
“We’re happy to talk with him and say, ‘look, let’s both figure out what we both want to accomplish and let’s come up with a common pathway to get there,'” Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump, said during an interview with Politico aired on C-SPAN, adding he planned to reach out to James later Thursday.
Professional sports came to a sudden halt on Wednesday after members of the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their upcoming playoff game to protest the shooting of Blake.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times by a Kenosha Police Department officer as he attempted to enter his vehicle. Cellphone footage of the incident led to an eruption of protests in Kenosha and other U.S. cities, with activists renewing calls for lawmakers to take action on police accountability.
The Justice Department and Wisconsin state authorities have launched investigations into the shooting. Blake is critically wounded, state officials said Wednesday.
The Bucks’s decision to boycott the games was followed by an announcement from the NBA that all of Wednesday’s games would be postponed. Players from the MLB, MLS and WNBA elected to sit out their games to protest the police shooting as well.
“F— THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” James tweeted following the Bucks’ decision.
In a statement issued by Bucks guard George Hill, the team demanded that the Wisconsin legislature reconvene to take up issues related to police brutality.
Trump administration officials, however, questioned the usefulness of their protests.
While speaking with Politico, Kushner suggested NBA players had the “luxury” to take a night off from work, unlike other Americans facing financial troubles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think it’s nice that they’re standing up for the issue, but I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive,” he said. “President Trump and this White House are willing to work with them. We actually have policies and the ability to execute them. We have a track record of getting things done that actually improve people’s lives, unlike a lot of people who are claiming to be their saviors.”
Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, echoed Kushner’s remarks, saying on CNN that the NBA players’ boycott was “absurd” and “silly.”
“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” Short said, adding he didn’t expect the administration to oppose or support it.
James has been outspoken about issues including racial injustice and police brutality. Earlier this summer, he helped launch the group More Than a Vote, which he said would be designed to motivate Black people to use their voice and cast ballots in this year’s election.
–Updated at 11:48 a.m.
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