After Week of Controversy, Twin Cities Pride Parade Sees Protest

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Twin Cities Pride officials on Friday, June 23, reversed its decision on not allowing uniformed, off-duty police officers to participate in its annual parade and also issued an apology.

Shortly after noon, the protesters left Hennepin Avenue and the parade started, although it was rushed along so that streets could be cleared on time.

In this image made from July 6, 2016, video captured by a camera in the squad auto of St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer is shown after shooting into the vehicle at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., as the 4-year-old daughter of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, starts to get out of the auto and is grabbed by an officer.

The decision has upset Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who is lesbian, sent an open letter objecting to the decision. Over a megaphone, they gave a list of demands to Pride organizers, which included the "total elimination" of police at all future Pride events.

Minneapolis police won't say how many officers have signed on to work festivities over pride weekend but those who have volunteered to work Pride will be in uniform. "I look forward to seeing everyone out at the parade on Sunday", she said.

"We recognize this decision has made members of the law enforcement community feel excluded, which is contrary to our mission to foster inclusion", Dot Belstler, the executive director of Twin Cities Pride, said in a statement. "Make Pride Revolutionary Again!" and "Justice for Philando".

While some found the additional law enforcement officers reassuring, Pride organizers said some parade participants - particularly people of color and transgender people - were made to feel less safe.

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.

She said: "Unfortunately, we have hurt and offended the LGBTQ police officers, and that was not at all our intent".

People who had planned to attended had voiced concerns about the police presence after a local police officer was acquitted after the shooting of an African American.

Chief Harteau did thank Pride organizers for their decision, but Union President Bob Kroll said it's too late.

Amy Brockman, a spokeswoman for Twin Cities Pride, said the group was preparing a response.

Organizers originally wanted limited participation in wake of the not guilty verdict of the shooting of Philando Castile.

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