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'It Felt Like The Right Thing To Do': Pittsburgh Police Chief Explains His Decision To Join Friday's Beechview George Floyd Protest

BEECHVIEW (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert gave a statement on Sunday explaining his involvement in the George Floyd protest in Beechview.

Schubert marched and kneeled with protesters in Beechview on Friday.

In a Facebook post, Pittsburgh Police acknowledged that Schubert's participation drew a lot of social media attention, some positive and some negative.

Schubert's full statement can be read below:

"To be honest, it wasn't something I planned. I try to be present at the rallies but at a distance. I like to be there, get a sense of the message and tone of the protest, and to help close streets around the protests to keep them safe—just to help any way I can, because I know how hard the officers on the scene are working.

That was my plan on Friday, too. But Sgt. Tiffany Costa of the Civil Affairs Unit suggested I join in. The entire Civil Affairs team have done an incredible job building relationships with the community and protesters and to understand their goals, and Sgt. Costa felt it would be a positive message for me to join them. The organizers actually invited police to participate, which is not something that's happened at other peaceful protests.

At first I said no. I didn't want to detract from the protest by doing something that might be viewed as a publicity stunt. But when the time came to march, and then to take a knee, it felt like the right thing to do.

I know a lot of people have questions about why I did this. To be clear, I didn't do it as a sign of support for people who riot or loot or throw bricks and explosives at police officers, or try to harm officers and civilians in other ways—that's a pretty cynical view, and if you think that way, you're wrong.

I marched and I took a knee for many reasons. I did it for all minorities who have experienced decades—centuries, actually—of systemic racism and discrimination. I did it for all of those people around me on Friday, peaceful protesters who want real and meaningful change, not ill-conceived, knee-jerk reactions. I did it because that neighborhood is where I grew up—I went to Brashear High School, just like the protest organizer, an amazing young woman who I think is going to be an incredible leader. I also did it for our officers. The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has focused for years on building bridges with all of our communities, and I want the public to see that, too.

As the Chief, it's my responsibility to look out for the safety of everyone. That includes our officers and all members of the community. This leadership position requires that I do everything possible to help calm situations and guide people through chaotic and traumatic events. If marching with peaceful protesters and taking a knee with them can, in any way, help keep people safe, if it can show the protesters that I see them, if it can help people get a better understanding of our officers' efforts to help everyone, if it can somehow calm emotions even a little so all of us can work together towards meaningful change—then I'll do it again."


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