Basketball legend Michael Jordan has broken his silence on social injustices and racial tensions in the US. The former NBA superstar's comments follow continued shootings of African-Americans, as well as the targeted retaliation against police officers in the country.
"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.," Jordan wrote in a one-page letter published by The Undefeated.
"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 colour receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line everyday to protect us all – are respected and supported," the former Chicago Bulls player added.
In an effort to improve relations between law enforcement and the community, Jordan unveiled contributions of $1m (£761,800) to two organisations, namely the newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the oldest civil rights law organisation in the US.
While Jordan recognised the funds will not solve the problems between police and the community, he said he hoped the donations would 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," he said.
"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."
Jordan's comments follow a particularly turbulent period for race relations in the US. Earlier this month, police shot and killed Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Video footage of the incident shows two law enforcement officials holding Sterling down before shots are fired.
Following Sterling's death, 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot dead by police in front of his daughter and girlfriend in St Paul, Minnesota after his car was pulled over. Castile's girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shocking incident live on Facebook.
Following the deaths of Sterling and Castile, five police officers were shot dead by a sniper at a protest over the fatal shootings in Dallas.