Charles Barkley has drawn criticism for comments he made Thursday night regarding Breonna Taylor and the defund the police movement.
Before Thursday’s Lakers-Nuggets game, both Barkley and “Inside the NBA” co-host Shaquille O’Neal said Taylor’s case — which resulted in no homicide charges for any of the police involved in her shooting death — shouldn’t be lumped in with the killings of Black individuals such as Ahmaud Arbury and George Floyd.
Barkley pointed to Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, as the reason their cases are dissimilar. Walker, a licensed gun owner, fired a “warning shot” at plainclothes police officers who had entered his and Taylor’s apartment. (One of those officers, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, was struck in his femoral artery; Walker’s attorney, Steve Romines, said evidence points toward his fellow police shooting him rather than Walker).
Barkley’s full comments on Taylor:
“I don’t think this one was like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and things like that. I feel sad that this young lady lost her life. I think this one was — the no-knock warrant is something we need to get rid of … across the board. But I am worried to lump all these situations in together.”
And I just feel bad that the young lady lost her life. But we do have to take into account that her boyfriend shot at the cops and shot a cop. So like I say, even though I am really sorry she lost her life, I just don’t think we can put this in the same situation as George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery.”
O’Neal agreed with Barkley’s sentiment, saying, “When you talk about murder, you have to show intent. A homicide occurred and we’re sorry a homicide occurred. When you have a warrant signed by the judge, you are doing your job, and I would imagine that you would fire back.”
Shortly after commenting on Taylor’s case, Barkley also rejected the notion of defunding police, saying it would adversely affect Black communities while leaving white ones largely undisturbed.
“Who are Black people supposed to call,” Barkley said, “Ghostbusters?”
For many, the notion of defunding the police is not to disband the police or deprive departments of necessary funding — thus making it harder for officers to respond to calls — but to reallocate money from bloated police budgets into other areas, such as mental health providers, social works, education and infrastructure. The belief is that, in turn, police will field fewer calls to respond to, thus reducing police violence.
Many on social media were not pleased with Barkley and O’Neal for the comments they made on Thursday (warning: foul language used):
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