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Michael Jordan

Who are the groups getting donations from Jordan?

Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1940; police institute was launched in May

Their missions have intersected but, before this month, the presidents of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, had never met.

But on July 10 the leaders of the two groups sat together on a panel on Face the Nation, just days after the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers. A week later they reconnected at the White House as President Barack Obama gathered law enforcement leaders and civil rights activists to discuss community policing.

On Monday, Sherrilyn Ifill, of the Legal Defense Fund, and Terrence Cunningham, of the IACP, are bonded by $1 million donations that basketball legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has made to each organization to help establish better trust between police and the communities they serve.

“We had a great discussion when we first met in the green room before Face the Nation,” Cunningham said of Ifill. “We look to continue doing great work with this gift from Michael Jordan.”

The donations from Jordan should have a tremendous impact on both groups. The Institute for Community-Police Relations, a new division of the IACP, had a $600,000 budget before Jordan’s donation. (The overall organization has an annual operating budget of $25 million.) The Legal Defense Fund’s annual budget is $14 million.

The NAACP Legal Defense fund was founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall, who in 1967 became the first African-American Supreme Court justice. The LDF under Marshall represented African-Americans as they attempted to get due process from the law despite state-sponsored inequality.

Operating as a separate organization from the NAACP since 1957, the core mission of the LDF remains, according to its website, “the achievement of racial justice, equality and an inclusive society.”

Law enforcement officers listen to US President Barack Obama speak at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago on October 27, 2015.

Law enforcement officers listen to US President Barack Obama speak at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition in Chicago on October 27, 2015.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In its past, the LDF sued hundreds of school districts to eliminate segregation and allow for better educational opportunities for African-Americans. Currently, the LDF has sought changes in policing following the recent shooting deaths of African-American men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, and spoken against the attacks on officers in Texas and Louisiana.

“We want prosecutors to step up and take responsibility for the power they wield, and to take responsibility to remove bias,” Ifill said. “We all want law enforcement to create accountability within police departments, and accountability when officers violate laws.”

The other group receiving a $1 million donation, the IACP Institute for Community-Police Relations, was launched in May. Its mission is to advance a culture of cohesion and trust between police and the communities they serve. Among other things, it is developing educational materials to help agencies build and foster positive community-police relations, offering training for agencies and facilitating citizen-police dialogue.

“We recognize the challenges of policing in this country, and both law enforcement departments and community groups are working to create change,” Cunningham said. “We know there’s implicit bias within police departments and in the community at large. It’s our job as police executives to address that issue and help create a healthier society.”

Jerry Bembry is a senior writer at The Undefeated. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright, and watching the Knicks play an NBA game in June.