Twin Cities Pride Reverses Decision, Invites Police to Parade

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to spectators at the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to spectators at the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday

Tensions have run high in the Minneapolis suburbs since a jury acquitted Yanez for fatally shooting Castile - a legal gun owner who told the St. Anthony officer he wasn't drawing his firearm - during a traffic stop last summer. There will be fewer police officers in uniform compared to past year, when Minneapolis police upped their patrol after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, organizers said.

The controversial decision was taken by the organisers of the Twin Cities Pride Parade at the last minute, ahead of the parade which takes place on Sunday in Minneapolis.

"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. "Our intent is and was to respect the pain that the people of color and transgender communities have experienced as of late, but our original approach fell short of our mission". Minneapolis' first openly gay police chief responded sharply Thursday, June 22, 2017, to a decision by organizers of the Twin Cities Pride Parade to ask her department to minimize its participation in Sunday's annual event due to tensions over the police shooting of Philando Castile.

Defense attorneys said officer Jeronimo Yanez was scared for life when he shot Philando Castile, 32, seconds after Castile informed the officer he was armed. They announced Friday that the squad vehicle at front of the parade would still be unmarked, but said law enforcement members could participate in the parade by holding the "unity" flag or marching alongside the rainbow, bisexual or transgender flags.

Earlier this week, parade organizers announced they would keep police participation to the minimum required by city ordinances to preserve safety.

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FILE - In this March 30, 2016 file photo, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau speaks at a news conference, in Minneapolis.

"It is one reason I was so proud to lead the Pride parade as Grand Marshall three years ago".

Attending it for more than two decades, she said she's seeing more acceptance each and every year.

"We would like to apologize to the law enforcement community for neglecting to communicate and consider input for other possible alternatives prior to releasing the details of this decision", executive director Dot Belstler said in a statement. She posted a brief video Friday thanking the Pride committee for their decision "after a very thoughtful conversation".

One protester said the group is "reclaiming Pride in response to the reversal of Pride's decision to include uniformed officers in the parade".

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