James, who has consistently used his platform to call for the end of police brutality, said the prosecutor’s decision was “a blow to the heart and to the gut.”
“Not only to that community, but to us and to every Black person that has been a part of this process and seeing these outcomes for so long,” he told reporters after the LA Lakers’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Tennessee on Tuesday.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced Tuesday that “no Kenosha law enforcement officer in this case will be charged with any criminal offense based on the facts and laws.”
Rusten Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back while responding to a domestic incident on August 23, 2020. Blake survived the shooting but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Officer Sheskey told investigators that he used deadly force during the chaotic encounter because he was afraid Blake, while attempting to flee the scene, was trying to kidnap a child in the back seat of the vehicle.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice had said Blake had a knife in his possession and the weapon was found on the floorboard of his vehicle. Blake himself told authorities he possessed a knife, Graveley said.
‘We will continue to work to enact policy change’
The announcement comes as anger continues to grow at the repeated deaths of Black people at the hands of police. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others sparked widespread protests across the world last year, driven by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Bucks’ decision led to game and practice postponements throughout the sports world including baseball and football.
Following the latest hearing, the Bucks released a statement on social media that did not specifically mention Blake nor the decision in Kenosha County but did reiterate its stance against racism.
“This past year shed light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American and other marginalized communities. Reoccurring instances of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the Black community must stop.
“We will continue to work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist. As an organization, we remain strongly committed to address issues of social injustice and anti-racism and to make meaningful change for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community.”
Wesley Matthews, who now plays for the Lakers, was part of the Bucks team which refused to play last year and he echoed James’ thoughts on the latest announcement.
“Truly, it’s disheartening […] it’s just about right and wrong,” he told reporters after the game on Tuesday.
“It can’t deter those citizens who are trying to do right, who are trying to fight for equality, who are trying to fight for the right things.
“It can’t deter us, we can’t lose our heads, we can’t start rioting, we have to be calculated, we have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to keep our foot on the gas.”