MINNEAPOLIS - "I am beyond disappointed."
Those heartfelt words were shared Thursday by Minneapolis Police Chief Janee' Harteau, in a letter she wrote to Twin Cities Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler in the wake of the announcement that uniformed police officers were not welcome to march in this weekend's PRIDE parade.
In a Facebook post Tuesday Twin Cities Pride organizers said the stance was in response to the recent Jeronimo Yanez not guilty verdict in the death of Philando Castile, and to "respect the pain the community is feeling right now." The decision came a day after the officer's dash cam video was released publicly for the first time, which shows how quickly the situation devolved from a conversation to a killing.
In her letter Chief Harteau explains how she took a couple days to process the decision by Twin Cities Pride to forgo the high-profile police escort from Minneapolis and St. Paul Police that has become a staple of the parade in recent years. "I am beyond disappointed that you didnn't feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decision 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 throughout our state."
"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," Harteau continued. "Police officers are more than just officers, they are human beings with families who are also part of this community."
Harteau assures all who plan to attend the parade and all PRIDE events this weekend that despite the snub, officers assigned to the event will go above and beyond to make sure it is safe and successful, "Not only is that our responsibility, it is also the expectation of those we proudly serve, which certainly includes those attending this year's parade," she writes.
The Chief also noted what she described as extensive outreach to the LGBT community, referencing that MPD was the first department in the nation to adopt a transgender policy, and assigned a full time officer to the department's Community Engagement Team as a LGBT liasion. "I know historically our minority communities have had struggles with police interactions," Harteau acknowledged. "This is why we've worked so hard to build relationships that I feel are both valued and respected."
In closing Harteau asks to meet with Belstler to discuss the decision to exclude officers from the parade and festival, and to make a commitment to police and the LGBT community working together moving forward.