After a jury acquitted the Minnesota police officer who shot Philando Castile to death, Twin Cities Pride has decided to largely exclude police from its parade this weekend—a decision that left Minneapolis’s first openly gay police chief “saddened to be shut out.”
“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). … 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,” wrote Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, who is a lesbian, in a letter to Twin Cities Pride.
City ordinances require the parade to have a police escort at its front to clear the route. In past years, dozens of officers have participated, driving their police cars or marching along with other participants.
But this year, the parade “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,” Twin Cities Pride announced on Facebook Tuesday. “There will just be one lone unmarked police car starting off the parade and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself.”
Twin Cities Pride’s announcement proved controversial. In response to the Facebook announcement, hundreds weighed in, with many of the messages criticizing the decision. Several of those commenters said they were themselves gay law-enforcement officers.
“This is a horrible decision,” a gay Saint Paul police officer, wrote on Facebook. “Thought pride was about inclusion, not exclusion.”
“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,” another officer posted on Facebook. “This is hateful and hurtful.”
Faced with the backlash, Twin Cities Pride organizers met Thursday night, reconsidering the decision. The outcome is “likely to be made public Friday morning,” the Star Tribune reported.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.