Former NFL football player and philanthropist Jack Brewer is demanding MSNBC host Joy Reid apologize for her tweet claiming a photo of young Black boys attending an event where Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an anti-critical race theory bill “is tantamount to child abuse.” Brewer explained the boys in the photo are students of his education and mentorship programs and were well aware of why they were attending the event.
“Joy Reid messed with the wrong boys,” Brewer told Fox News Digital on Monday, adding that he has also retained legal counsel about a potential defamation suit.
Reid had retweeted a message from Florida state Sen. Shevrin Jones on Friday attacking DeSantis for Black children being photographed at the event where the governor signed the “Stop Woke” bill into law.
“This mis-use of Black boys is tantamount to child abuse. I would really like to hear the back-story on who these kids were and how they wound up at a DeSantis event. Given how anti-Black DeSantis is, using Black children this way is extra sick,” Reid said in her tweet.
The kids in the photo are part of programs Brewer founded, including The Serving Institute and The Heroes program, which fall under the umbrella of his organization The Jack Brewer Foundation.
“We are a faith-based program where we stand firm on the word of God,” Brewer told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Monday. “For people to be questioned … this is just a tragedy, and this is the problem with Black America. This is the problem with underserved communities right here. Joy Reid is the example of the crisis going on in Black America.”
“The biggest concern that we both have is just for the safety and protection of my kids and our program,” he continued. “We’ve received several phone calls from parents and different people who are obviously getting calls and harassed by folks in regards to this crazy thing that Joy did.”
Reid updated her tweet over the weekend saying that sources informed her that the boys in the photo were from a Miami charter school and claimed they may not have known why they were at the DeSantis event.
“Update: heard from a Florida source today that these Black boys who America’s most racist governor used as props came from a Miami charter school (I won’t name the school to spare them from MAGA harassment/threats) & that they may not have known in advance why they were there,” Reid wrote.
Brewer told Fox News Digital that the boys in the photo “knew exactly what they were for.” They had also supported DeSantis in the past, including earlier this month when the governor signed a bill providing more than $70 million to support fatherhood.
“It was explained to them on the bus … It was explained to them while they were there. Yeah, my kids don’t identify with CRT because we don’t believe in it,” he said. “We believe in loving everybody and not separating people by their skin color. That’s what we teach. Our program teaches to love this country. To love God first. To love their neighbor as themselves.”
Fox News Digital also spoke to an aunt and guardian to one of the boys in the photo amplified by Reid, who recounted that “people are upset on our behalf because they know that these kids have been taught to love, not hate and [have] animosity toward other people.”
“I just think it’s pretty outrageous that Joy Reid’s thought process is that people can’t have independent thinking about matters like CRT,” Jane Halbritter told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Monday.
Halbritter added that her nephews in Brewer’s programs are “very articulate on [CRT] and are just very, very upset and hurt by what [Reid] said.”
“I wished [Reid] had asked them about it, because they do know what CRT is and why we oppose it,” Halbritter continued. “I wouldn’t send them blindly into any sort of thing like that.”
MSNBC’s media team did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment regarding Brewer’s request for an apology and him retaining legal counsel.
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw also weighed in on the matter on Saturday and said every person at the event was informed on the contents of the bill.
“I was working at this event and helped with the set up. My colleague talked to all the kids beforehand & told them what the issue was & what bills @GovRonDeSantis was signing. Hundreds of people attended this event; those ~50 who ended up on stage freely chose to stand on stage,” Pushaw tweeted.
Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this story.