After Yanez verdict, police asked to keep low profile at Twin Cities Pride parade
ST. PAUL — St. Paul and Minneapolis police officers typically have a big, visible presence at the start of the Twin Cities Pride parade, but organizers told them not this year after hearing concerns from community members.
After a jury acquitted St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on Friday, June 16, in the shooting death of Philando Castile last year, Twin Cities Pride wants to "respect the pain the community is feeling right now," organizers said in a Tuesday, June 20, statement on Facebook.
People were planning to protest the police involvement in the Sunday, June 25, parade.
St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Mary Nash, the department's LGBTQ liaison, said 12 to 25 St. Paul officers have taken part in the parade in past years. Some are LGBTQ officers and others have walked in the parade as supporters, Nash said.
"It is disappointing," Nash said Wednesday, June 21. "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."
The union representing St. Paul officers also expressed disappointment.
"Twin Cities Pride, as an organization preaching inclusion and equality for everyone in the community, to exile gay and straight officers from the parade runs counter to the values the organization claims to promote," said Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president. "This blatant exclusion of police officers by parade leadership exemplifies ignorance towards our profession and community members supportive of us."
Amy Brockman, Twin Cities Pride external relations manager, said they appreciate all LGTBQ officers.
"This does not at all reflect what they bring to the force and we appreciate them participating in Pride every year and being able to be out with their community as well," she said.
But the Twin Cities Pride Parade and Festival in Minneapolis, which draws about 350,000 people each year, is working "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," organizers said in the Tuesday statement.
The parade is required to have a police car lead the event to make sure the route is clear. This year, it will be a lone unmarked squad and they will have "limited police participation in the parade itself," according to the statement.
St. Paul officers will still be taking part in the Pride Festival at a booth they share with Minneapolis officers in Loring Park on Saturday and Sunday. It's a time when they encourage people from the LGTBQ community to consider careers in law enforcement, so "we can be more inclusive of the community we serve," Nash said.