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Michael Jordan: ‘I Can No Longer Stay Silent’ on ‘Cowardly’ Attacks on Cops and Police Killing African Americans

Basketball legend Michael Jordan has spoken out about the ongoing controversies over the shooting of black teens by police and the murders of cops by extremists by donating $1 million to an NAACP activist fund as well as a newly created group aimed at informing police on how to create better community policing practices.

Saying he can “no longer stay silent” about the “deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement,” Jordan published an open letter announcing his donations to the two groups; the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and a newly created organization called the Institute for Community-Police Relations.

In his statement Jordan laid the blame on police departments for lacking proper policies for dealing with African Americans, but also criticized the “cowardly” attacks on police.

Jordan noted that he lost his own father to “a senseless act of violence” and as a black man himself he is “deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement.” But he also noted he is “angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers” and grieves with all those who have lost loved ones in this climate of turmoil.

The famed Chicago Bulls star went on to say he was “saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse” and said he is dedicating himself to ensuring that “people of color receive fair and equal treatment” at the hands of police.

But he also pointed out that the solutions need to be coupled with policies that will make sure police officers are “respected and supported.”

Jordan went on, though, to note that his personal experience with law enforcement may be different than that of other African Americans.

Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

With that in mind he announced that his donations would go to help resolve the situation, though he cautioned that he understands his “contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem.”

He concluded saying he hoped his contributions would “foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world” for the country.

The NAACP is a well-known African American activist group but the Institute for Community-Police Relations is a lesser known and fairly new organization. The group is sponsored by the International Association of Chief’s of Police and according to its website is “designed to provide guidance and assistance to law enforcement agencies looking to enhance community trust, by focusing on culture, policies, and practices.”

Full Jordan statement:

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

I was raised by parents who taught me to love and respect people regardless of their race or background, so I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent. We need to find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers — who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all — are respected and supported.

Over the past three decades I have seen up close the dedication of the law enforcement officers who protect me and my family. I have the greatest respect for their sacrifice and service. I also recognize that for many people of color their experiences with law enforcement have been different than mine. I have decided to speak out in the hope that we can come together as Americans, and through peaceful dialogue and education, achieve constructive change.

To support that effort, I am making contributions of $1 million each to two organizations, the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The Institute for Community-Police Relations’ policy and oversight work is focused on building trust and promoting best practices in community policing. My donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s oldest civil rights law organization, will support its ongoing work in support of reforms that will build trust and respect between communities and law enforcement. Although I know these contributions alone are not enough to solve the problem, I hope the resources will help both organizations make a positive difference.

We are privileged to live in the world’s greatest country — a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow, but if we all work together, we can foster greater understanding, positive change and create a more peaceful world for ourselves, our children, our families and our communities.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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