Minneapolis LGBT group Twin Cities Pride , this week decided to ban the city’s uniformed police officers from participating in its annual unity parade Sunday after a suburban cop was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, during a traffic stop last year.
“There will just be one lone unmarked police car starting off the parade and there will limited police participation in the parade itself.”
Parade organizers said Thursday that they were talking with police and other affected groups about their request to not have uniformed officers at the event.
“Our goal is to create a cohesive, unifying solution that is inclusive of each perspective on this topic,” Twin Cities Pride said in a statement.
But Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who is lesbian, sent a letter to Twin Cities Pride executive director Dot Belstler calling the decision “divisive” and saying it “really hurt so many in our community,” including LGBT officers and their families.
“I am beyond disappointed that you didn’t feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decision that has really hurt so many in our community, including the LGBTQ members of this Department (and their family members) and those who serve and protect throughout the state,” she wrote to Twin Cities Pride. “I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal, and the message of division and not inclusion is so hurtful to many of us.”
Disappointment was widespread, including from other gay officers.
“As the only openly Out gay male officer with the Saint Paul Police department, this is a horrible decision,” Darin McDonald wrote on Facebook. “Thought Pride message was about inclusion, and not exclusion.”
Shan Diedrich agreed: “I could have never imagined something like this. Not only am I a gay woman that grew up with being the odd one out but now in my own community, I’m being once again put out for being a police officer. This is hateful and hurtful. This is not bringing the community together and building stronger relationships, this is dividing us. A huge step in the wrong direction. This is discriminatory and I’m hurt. Excluding a group of people is wrong.”
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Across the country, other Pride events are taking similar action.
Organizers in Portland, Ore., are asking officers to consider not wearing their uniforms because some “don’t feel comfortable attending alongside police in uniform,” according to the Oregonian. Various law enforcement officials were upset and at least one county sheriff’s department decided to not march at all.
In the Twin Cities, Eva Wood, anti-violence program director at the LGBTQ-rights group OutFront, said she supports the organizers’ decision.
“I personally think they made the right call,” Wood said.
The increased police presence in response to the Orlando shooting at Pride last year left many people of color feeling “unsafe,” Wood said.
“Specifically, the queer and trans people of color reached out to us saying cops in uniform at Pride might make white people feel safe, but not us.”