In the wake of the death of Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, in April, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted a picture of the police officer who shot the teenager as she was attempting to stab another woman.
“YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY,” it read.
A Bellevue, Idaho, police officer decided to make a satirical rejoinder and posted it on TikTok; it included him having a theoretical conversation with James about how to handle a black suspect.
Guess which one got suspended?
Yes, even though James received no official NBA pushback for his tweet, Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester was purportedly suspended from the department after his video. However, Silvester managed to raise over $500,000 via GoFundMe — and he plans to use it to give back as well as to survive.
LeBron James deleted this tweet but only after it had 39,000+ likes. The man in the photo saved a young black girl from another young black girl who was going to stab her in the neck. He did his job. Now @KingJames put a target on his back. Is the @NBA okay with this??? pic.twitter.com/QegzyySnsI
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) April 21, 2021
The TikTok came to wider attention after it was tweeted by The Post Millennial on April 25. It begins with Silvester calling in a request for LeBron to call his car, followed by him urging a perp to “put the knife down please, sir. … Sir, don’t stab — no, no, stop stabbing, stop — hold on, hold on, it’s LeBron.”
“LeBron, hey, yeah, it’s me again,” Silvester said. “Listen, I’m out here at this disturbance call and there’s a guy trying to stab another guy with a knife. What do you think I should do?”
A policeman calls LeBron for advice in hilarious viral video pic.twitter.com/iQmLOKFXHr
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) April 25, 2021
“LeBron” advised him that he should hold off, given that both of the individuals were black and the officer was white.
“OK, well, they’re both black. One guy is trying to stab another guy with a knife,” Silvester said in the video. “Deadly force is completely justified.”
“You don’t care if a black person kills another black person, but you do care if a white cop kills a black person even if he’s doing it to save the life of another black person?” he asked.
“I mean it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but then again, you are really good at basketball so I guess I’ll take your word for it.”
A few days later, the Bellevue Marshal’s Office posted a statement to Facebook in which they responded to the “extreme controversy” surrounding Silvester’s viral TikTok.
“The statements made do NOT represent the Bellevue Marshal’s Office. The Bellevue Marshal’s Office always demands that our Deputies engage with our citizens in a friendly and professional manner,” the statement said.
“This is NOT how we expect our Deputies to act on duty or use city time.”
They added that it was a “personnel issue that is being dealt with internally.”
While they didn’t say whether or not Silvester had been suspended, a GoFundMe page to support Silvester did, saying he’d been suspended “without pay over a viral TikTok.”
People responded to the tune of over $509,000 by Friday morning — and, according to Silvester, a lot of that is going to go to charity. In a video posted to social media, he thanked donors.
“So if I’ve learned anything from this whole experience so far, it’s that the vast majority of people in our country are amazing, decent, honest, compassionate, generous people,” he said.
“Americans still love their police officers, they still love their men and women in blue, and you guys have made that resoundingly clear.”
“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’re doing,” he continued. “It means so much to me and so much to my family, and it will mean so much to these officers that these funds are going to benefit in the very near future.”
Among the projects that will get money, according to the GoFundMe page, is a scholarship fund which “will benefit displaced officers who experience financial hardship as a result of being denied due process in administrative matters with their respective departments.
“Many of these officers don’t receive backing or support from their agencies when they should and are often denied income for weeks or months or, in some cases, terminated without cause,” Silvester said. “Most officers’ income is low enough as it is, and even being denied a week’s pay can be devastating.”
Thankfully, that won’t be happening to Silvester, and not just because of the GoFundMe. Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns told the Idaho Mountain Express that while a formal complaint had been filed against Silvester, he’ll keep his job. Not only that, the Idaho Statesman reported he now has a book deal, too.
“I signed a book deal yesterday, the working title of which is ‘Never Off Duty,’” Silvester said in a video. “The whole point of my TikTok account is to humanize the badge.”
It may have gotten him suspended, sure, but at least he got more attention, followers and money. He was still reportedly suspended, however — which is more than can be said for LeBron.
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