Pride officials apologize, will let police march

Published 5:24 pm Friday, June 23, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — Twin Cities Pride Parade organizers apologized Friday for asking law enforcement to minimize their participation in Sunday’s annual event in downtown Minneapolis due to tensions over the shooting of Philando Castile, and said officers are welcome to march after all.

Organizers issued a statement saying they neglected to consider alternatives before making their request earlier this week. At the time they said they were trying to respect the pain felt by some following last week’s acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed the black school cafeteria worker during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July.

“We recognize this decision has made members of the law enforcement community feel excluded, which is contrary to our mission to foster inclusion,” said the statement from Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride, and its board of directors. “Our intent is and was to respect the pain that the people of color and transgender communities have experienced as of late, but our original approach fell short of our mission.”

Organizers made the change after meeting Thursday with Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, the city’s first openly gay police chief, who was honored as the parade’s grand marshal three years ago. She posted a brief video Friday thanking the Pride committee for their decision “after a very thoughtful conversation.”

“I look forward to seeing everybody out at the parade on Sunday and I want to wish everybody a happy Pride,” she said while standing in front of a rainbow flag with a large Minneapolis police badge on it.

The parade, which typically draws about 350,000 people, was led in previous years by several marked squad cars with lights and sirens, as well as uniformed officers marching toward the front.

The statement said organizers would stick to a plan announced earlier to have one unmarked police car clear the way for the parade, as required by law. But they invited police officers to participate by holding unity flags or marching alongside the rainbow, bisexual or transgender flags in the parade.