Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan joined other athletes, coaches and executives publicly speaking out about the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests.
“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said in a statement Sunday. “I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.”
Floyd was an unarmed black man who died in police custody last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Four police officers were fired because of the incident, and Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for pinning Floyd to the ground, an action that was caught on a widely viewed video.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the United States, some of which have turned violent and resulted in injuries, fires, theft and property damage in cities such as Minneapolis, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Nashville and Washington, D.C.
“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others,” Jordan said. “We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability.
“Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all. My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.”
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams joined Jordan in stressing the need for immediate change.
“We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain,” Rivers said in a statement. “This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue. Our society must start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation and do the right thing. Silence and inactivity are not acceptable anymore. Now is the time to speak.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, along with multiple Mavs players, attended a Sunday prayer vigil in Dallas, while Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James shared videos on social media of peaceful protests in Denver and Washington, D.C.
Vanessa Bryant posted an old photo on social media Sunday of her late husband and Lakers great Kobe Bryant wearing an “I can’t breathe” shirt. Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates wore the shirt six years ago after the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody.
San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker on Sunday was among volunteers helping to clean up damage from protests in his city over the death of Floyd. Walker also handed out bottles of water to helpers and removed graffiti from the sides of buildings.
“You all have a reason to be nice. It’s common courtesy, being a human. Helping out the best you can,” Walker said in a video posted on Instagram.
NFL addresses death of George Floyd, protests
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement Saturday in response to Floyd’s death, saying there “remains an urgent need for action.”
NFL Players Association president and Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter also shared a statement on Twitter. The veteran offensive lineman said he has felt a “range of emotions from disbelief to anger” this week.
“The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country,” Goodell said. “The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel. As current events dramatically underscore, there remains so much more to do as a country and as a league.
“These tragedies inform the NFL’s commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”
49ers donating $1 million to spark change
The San Francisco 49ers pledged to donate $1 million to “local and national organizations who are creating change.”
49ers CEO Jed York took to social media Saturday to address recent events related to Floyd’s death and to announce the franchise’s donation.
“People throughout our country are hurting,” York said on Twitter. “Emotions are raw, and rightfully so. Heinous acts have been committed in recent weeks.
“Before we are able to realize impactful change, we must first have the courage and compassion as human beings to come together and acknowledge the problem: black men, women, children and other oppressed minorities continue to be systematically discriminated against.”
Saturday’s announcement from York marks the second known donation by the 49ers organization in the last four years to address social justice causes. In Sept. 2016, the franchise matched the $1 million donation made by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to local charities that aim at fixing social issues.