NBA legend Jordan hits out at US gun violence
BASKETBALL icon Michael Jordan, long reluctant to speak out on social issues, condemned violence fuelling rising racial tension in the United States and pledged US$2 million toward efforts to build trust.
“I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent,” Mr Jordan said in a letter released via theundefeated.com, a website backed by ESPN, on July 25.
It was a watershed moment for a superstar who throughout his playing career, in which he led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association championships between 1991 and 1998, was criticised for his hesitance to wade in on politics.
His unexpected move was widely welcomed.
“Change happens when one American at a time can no longer stay silent. Thank you Michael Jordan for speaking up!” Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to US President Barack Obama said on Twitter.
“DO NOT SLEEP ON MJ,” tweeted filmmaker Spike Lee.
A wave of police killings of African-Americans and deadly attacks against police officers prompted Mr Jordan’s public stand.
“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,” he said.
“I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.”
His father, James, was shot dead in 1993 at a highway rest area.
Mr Jordan announced grants of US$1 million each to two organisations working to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities in which they work – the Institute for Community Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defence Fund. –
Michael Jordan says he is disturbed over the wave of police killings of African-Americans.