Jordan’s home state of North Carolina was one of several sites for protests over Floyd’s death that have occasionally turned violent in recent days. In a rare public statement, the six-time NBA champion said he was “deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry” about the situation.”
“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,” Jordan said. “I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality."
Jordan added that demonstrators should “continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability” in the wake of Floyd’s death.
Floyd, 46, died while in police custody on Monday night. Police responded to a call that a counterfeit bill was used at a nearby grocery store. A bystander video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the handcuffed Floyd’s neck for several minutes prior to his death.
The four officers directly involved in the incident were fired. The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Floyd’s death generated instant outrage in Minneapolis and other cities around the country. Mostly peaceful protests have coincided with instances of rioting and looting in some locations, prompting Minnesota and other states to call in the National Guard and institute nightly curfews to restore order.
Jordan was one of countless sports figures who have spoken out against Floyd's death in recent days. Other prominent voices calling for action include NBA superstar LeBron James, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and MLB slugger Peter Alonso.
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, called for peaceful demonstrations in an Instagram post.
"Life is so fragile. Life is so unpredictable. Life is too short," Bryant wrote. "Let’s share and embrace the beautiful qualities and similarities we all share as people. Drive out hate. Teach respect and love for all at home and school. Spread LOVE. Fight for change- register to VOTE. Do not use innocent lives lost as an excuse to loot. BE AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. #BLACKLIVESMATTER"
Several brands also called for action. Jordan’s longtime business partner, apparel giant Nike, spoke against injustice in social media posts this week.
"For once, Don't Do It. Don't pretend there's not a problem in America,” Nike said in the videos.
Nike expressed support for the nationwide protests while decrying the isolated incidents of violence, including instances in which its own stores were looted.
"Nike supports free and peaceful protests and we do not condone violence," Nike said in a statement. "We are closely following the protests occurring across the country and can confirm all employees at impacted Nike stores were not harmed."
Jordan’s message was also shared on social media accounts for Nike’s Jordan brand.
“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,” Jordan added.