After the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, Minneapolis police planned an "unprecedented" presence in the downtown Pride festival. But this year, the department has been asked to take a step back.
In the wake of the Yanez verdict, Twin Cities Pride says it doesn't feel right to have a flashy police presence in the parade on Sunday.
Organizers explained the decision in a Facebook post Tuesday, saying after receiving several calls from concerned community members, they've decided to "respect the pain the community is feeling right now" and limit police participation in the parade.
By law, a police car has to lead the parade to make sure the route is clear of vehicles. But this year, it'll be an unmarked car, and there won't be any law enforcement marching in the parade.
"With the Twin Cities Pride Parade and Festival drawing about 350,000 people each year, we are doing our best to balance the concerns of the community and our concerns for making this family-friendly event a safe and welcoming place for everyone to attend," the statement says.
Organizers made it clear the post is just about police officers marching in the parade – there will still be security at the event, including hired guards, volunteers, and some police.
St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Mary Nash, the department’s LGBTQ liaison, told the Pioneer Press there's usually 12 to 25 St. Paul officers in the parade, and that the decision is "disappointing."
“I understand that people are angry and we can respect their feelings, but … if we can’t work together, it gets more challenging to become better as a community, as a police department," Nash told the paper.
Pride organizers will hold a "listening session" later this summer to hear concerns and suggestions for future Pride Festival and Parade planning, the Facebook post said.