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Michael Jordan announced he will donate $2 million to two organizations that strive to improve community and police relations, according to ESPN's sports and culture website The Undefeated.
Jordan released a letter to the sports news site saying that he would donate $1 million to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Jordan wrote that he can "no longer stay silent" in light of recent racial tension and violence between citizens and law enforcement officers.
He called for new policies to ensure that citizens of color are treated fairly and that police officers receive respect and support.
Both groups were informed of the donations Sunday night.
"We're surprised and shocked, but obviously thrilled," said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director of the Legal Defense Fund. "We've been working on these issues for some many years, and it's great to hear that Michael Jordan and his people are aware of our work and are willing to make a contribution."
"What an opportunity for Michael Jordan to do this and help raise the discussion between police and the members of the communities they serve," said Terrence Cunningham, the IACP president and chief of the Wellesley, Massachusetts, police department. "The IACP aims to provide a toolbox for departments and communities to come together to discuss implicit bias and police legitimacy, and this is an opportunity to help that along."
"I applaud Michael Jordan for these donations," NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Undefeated Monday. "His championing of important social issues including fundamental civil and human rights carries enormous impact in communities everywhere."
Here is Jordan's full 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."
Read more at The Undefeated.