PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh’s Black Political Empowerment Project is praising the response of a local police chief following his powerful letter about the death of George Floyd.

On Monday in Minneapolis, the 46-year-old Floyd died after being apprehended outside a store after a report of a counterfeit bill. A video from a bystander shows a white male police officer’s knee pressed on Floyd’s neck.

On Friday, fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert sent a bureau-wide letter to fellow officers calling the death of Floyd “tragic” and “senseless.”

“The words ‘I can’t breathe’ should never be heard again except as a historical footnote to this country,” said Tim Stevens, CEO of B-PEP.

“A person in handcuffs and facedown on the ground should not lose their life due to the actions or inaction of the involved officers. It was difficult to watch Mr. Floyd pleading for help and gasping for breathing before saying his final words,” Schubert said in the letter.

(Photo Credit: Bryce Lutz/KDKA)

“As an African American and as a guy who has been a civil rights activist for five decades plus, I was very moved by that,” said Stevens.

In a news conference on Friday, the Black Political Empowerment Project highlighted parts of the chief’s letter calling his officers to use moral courage.

“When a police leader says we are going to evaluate our training practice, our policies, our procedures, that’s a sign of leadership,” said Beth Pittinger,
the executive director of Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board.

Pittinger is also praising the chief for calling upon the police academy to review Floyd‘s death as a reinforcement of the bureau’s training against the use of excessive force.

“I’m calling for calm here in Pittsburgh, we don’t need to mimic anything that’s happening,” said Sharon Macintosh of B-PEP.

B-PEP partners with the NAACP and the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence to teach youth how to interact with police.

The group says it’s hopeful other departments will follow Schubert’s lead.

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