Twin Cities Pride to 'limit' police in parade

Twin Cities Pride organizers say the request is in response to the recent Philando Castile verdict and to "respect the pain the community is feeling right now." http://kare11.tv/2srFn5n

MINNEAPOLIS - Police will be less visible in the Twin Cities Pride parade this weekend, at the request of organizers and community members.

And some LGBTQ officers have taken exception to it.

"Now for the first time in my life as a gay man I feel unwelcome at at a gay pride event in my own community," Capt. Tom Hawley, who has worked for a suburban police department for 29 years, told KARE.

"They basically have disinvited all of law enforcement from participating in the event."

The Pride Twin Cities organization decided the parade will be led by a single, unmarked squad car this year in contrast to past years when several marked cars led the procession, as well as officers in uniform who volunteered to be in the parade.

"We had request from the People of Color community to lessen the police presence," Darcie Baumann, who chairs the Pride Twin Cities, told KARE.

According to a Facebook post, Twin Cities Pride organizers say its request is 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.

Minneapolis and St. Paul police typically have a high profile in the Twin Cities Pride parade and were especially visible last year following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

"Police officers, everybody, everyone's welcome at Pride," Baumann explained. "We're just asking that we don't have uniformed officers at that point of the parade."

Hawley has gone to the parade for years with his husband, friends and coworkers -- both gay and straight.

He said he normally carries his gun at the parade, even when he's dressed in plain clothes, because he wants to be able to help in the event of an attack. But this year he won't attend.

"I certainly understand people being upset about the verdict. That has nothing to do with me," Hawley remarked. "That has nothing to do with those officers that are participating in the gay pride parade."

Baumann said that Pride didn't want to offend officers, or make them feel unwelcome in any way.  She said the organization also worried about officers being attacked in the wake of the Yanez verdict, which could lead to collateral injuries to children.

But Stephen Rocheford, the President and CEO of Lavender Publications, rejected that notion.

"I think it was an egregious act. They were not thinking correctly," Rocheford told KARE. "I find it appalling that the committee would do this."

Generally, there are representatives and vehicles from several departments at the front of the parade to signal its start.  One year Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who is part of the LGBTQ community, was the grand marshal of the parade.

Twin Cities Pride says there will still be a security plan in place which includes police officers, hired security and volunteer security at and around the parade route.

 

© 2017 KARE-TV


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