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WNBA & Olympic Champion Sylvia Fowles and Rep. Karen Bass (CA-37), author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, among panelists in Beyond Justice: A RISE Critical Conversation on Sport, Race & Community-Police Relations that streams Wednesday, May 19 @ 7p.m. ET / 6p.m. CT on RISE's Twitter + Facebook pages.

May 19, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS - RISE, the national nonprofit that uses sport to combat racism and unite diverse communities, is partnering with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx and the National Urban League to host a Critical Conversation on Wednesday, May 19, highlighting the impact of systemic racism and actionable steps for achieving racial equity, social justice and improving relations among law enforcement and communities of color.

With the anniversary of George Floyd's murder upcoming and the recent conviction of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the conversation features personal experiences of police interactions and discusses the potential impact of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which was recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is under review in the U.S. Senate. The event also explores how the sports community can lead in helping to identify and champion systemic solutions to systemic issues of racism and injustice.

The conversation streams at 7 ET / 6 CT, tonight, on RISE's Twitter (@RISEtoWIN) and Facebook (/RISEtoWIN) pages. Panelists include Lynx forward Sylvia Fowles, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time WNBA champion; Tru Pettigrew, Timberwolves Vice President of Player Programs and Diversity & Inclusion; Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League; and Congressmember Karen Bass (CA-37), sponsor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford moderates the conversation.

Beyond Justice: A RISE Critical Conversation on Sport, Race & Community-Police Relations is the first of a series of conversations that RISE will host with various sport and social justice partners across the country this year. The conversations will serve to empower the sports community to lead in outlining actionable steps that address racism and bias in policing, improve relations among law enforcement and communities of color, prevent future violence and create a more inclusive and equitable society.

"The guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd represents accountability and a step towards justice, but it does not amount to full justice," Billings-Burford said. "Creating a fully just society requires intentional action so that every community feels safe interacting with police. Many sports organizations and athletes have stepped up in the past year and are embracing their roles as community and national leaders for ending racism. This Critical Conversation is an intentional act by RISE and our partners to create that change and to continue to connect protests to progress."

RISE and the Timberwolves and Lynx organization have established a robust partnership over the last year that includes staff and players engaging in RISE-led workshops on cultural competency and civic engagement, organization-wide town halls on addressing racism and multi-week youth programming to promote racial equity in local communities.

"In the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion, activists, advocates and allies all play a vital role," Pettigrew said. "The Wolves and Lynx have made a commitment to be activists, to be advocates, to be allies, and to play the vital role that is needed to create meaningful change in our community."

Said Morial: "From Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Colin Kaepernick and Maya Moore, athletes long have played a vital role in the racial justice movement in the United States. As we struggle to redefine public safety and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, initiatives like RISE and the Critical Conversations Series can help raise awareness and use the unifying power of the sports platform to make a difference."

Said Rep. Bass: "These types of conversations are absolutely critical to moving the needle on this issue in this country. I encourage everyone to be civically engaged, which is more than just voting. As I said during our discussion: Congress can take either 10 days to act or 10 years - what makes the difference is the awareness of the public. We've got to get this done. Lives depend on it."

About RISE

RISE is a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations. Through partnerships and programs, RISE inspires leaders in sports to create positive change on matters of race and equality. RISE programs build skills and create safe spaces to have difficult conversations. RISE equips students, athletes, coaches and administrators with the tools to be culturally competent, effective advocates for racial equity and leaders in addressing racism, prejudice, diversity and inclusion. RISE's vision is to create a nation unified through sports committed to racial equity and social justice. For more, visit https://risetowin.org

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