Leadership

Michael Jordan Antiviolence Donation Strategy Strikes Careful Political Balance

By / Jul 27, 2016 (Charlotte Hornets handout photo)

One of the greatest basketball legends of all time is troubled by recent violence by police officers against African-Americans. But, in the midst of a contentious debate, he made a significant point by splitting his donations between two organizations.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan is speaking up on an important issue—while avoiding some of that issue’s messier political angles.

This week, the basketball legend noted a desire to contribute to human rights efforts on an issue close to his heart. “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,” Jordan said in a public statement published on ESPN’s subsidiary website, The Undefeated.

Jordan, the retired Chicago Bulls icon who currently owns the Charlotte Hornets, announced two charitable donations of $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) and the Institute for Community-Police Relations (ICPR), which was recently established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

Both organizations are excited about the donations. “I am so pleased and honored that Michael Jordan will be making this donation to LDF in support of our policing reform efforts,” President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill said in a news release.

The group is in the midst of a policing-reform campaign, focused on community-building and accountability. Working in large U.S. cities, including New York City and Baltimore, and smaller ones, such as Ferguson, Missouri, LDF works to ensure federal funds to police departments are used to support critical  training and reforms to end racial bias and to promote best practices for community policing.

“It is an act of true leadership that Mr. Jordan has chosen to use his stature to highlight the importance of this issue to all Americans and by taking a personal stance in support of organizations directly engaged in addressing this crisis in our nation,” Ifill added.

Seeing Both sides

At the same time, Jordan condemned the recent spate of targeted violence against police officers.

“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,” he wrote in his Undefeated article.

IACP’s ICPR, started in May of this year with the hope of helping law enforcement enhance their culture and procedures to prioritize community-building, was a key beneficiary of the basketball legend’s desire to focus on the issue holistically.

“The IACP is thrilled by Mr. Jordan’s generous donation in support of the Institute for Community-Police Relations and his commitment to enhance and build trust between community members and law enforcement,” Terrence Cunningham, IACP president and chief of the Wellesley, Massachusetts, police department, said in a news release.

Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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