MINNEAPOLIS – Organizers of Twin Cities Pride have caved to demands and announced Tuesday that they will be working to severely limit law enforcement involvement in the Pride parade this year.
In responding to “community members voicing their concern” following the court decision for Officer Jeronimo Yanez, the parade will now be much less open to participation by police officers.
“We always have several police departments wanting to roll down Hennepin with lights and sirens to participate in this announcement that the parade is about to begin,” Twin Cities Pride wrote in a Facebook post. “With the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case Twin Cities Pride has decided to forgo this part of the police participation in the parade for this year and respect the pain the community is feeling right now.”
Yanez was acquitted Friday of one count of manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon in the fatal shooting of motorist Philando Castile.
While the parade is required to have a police vehicle lead the parade to make sure the route is clear, this year it will be a single unmarked squad car taking on that duty. The Star Tribune reports there will also be fewer uniformed police officers present compared with previous years.
Officers usually play a much more active role in the parade and surrounding activities. Minneapolis Police Chief Janeè Harteau, herself a member of the LGBT community, even served as the parade’s grand marshal three years ago. She penned a letter to Twin Cities Pride’s Executive Director Dot Belstler, which was published on the Minneapolis Police Department’s social media, as well as Harteau’s own.
“I am beyond disappointed that you didn’t feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decisions that has really hurt so many in our community including the LGBT members of this Department (and their family members), and those who serve and protect through our state,” wrote Harteau.
“I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal and the message of division and not inclusion is hurtful to many of us,” she continued. “Police officers are more than just officers they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.”
Harteau asked Belstler to meet with her to discuss the decision to exclude law enforcement officers, as well as to discuss how officers can work with the LGBT community to “make sure everyone feels both safe and welcome.”
The Minneapolis Police Department has been a leader in recent years regarding LGBT members of the community. The department adopted the United States’ first transgender policy for a police department, and have a full-time officer specifically assigned as a LGBT liaison on the department’s Community Engagement Team.