Anti-police protesters disrupt Twin Cities Pride Parade

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Protesters demonstrating against the police and the verdict in the Philando Castile shooting trial blocked the Twin Cities Pride Parade Sunday morning, delaying its start by more than an hour.

"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. "Will I be welcomed next year?" she said on Twitter.

One unmarked police vehicle will clear the way as originally stated, and we would like to invite members of the law enforcement community to participate in the parade by holding the Unity flag or marching alongside the Rainbow, Bisexual, or Transgender flags. "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".

Pride organizers met with Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau and Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition Executive Director Roxanne Anderson on Thursday "in an effort to create a cohesive, unifying alternative which is inclusive of each perspective on this issue".

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau says she is "beyond disappointed" that she was not consulted before organizers of the Twin Cities Pride Parade asked police to minimize their participation in Sunday's event.

The statement says they're required to have a police auto lead the parade to make sure the route is clear, so it will be a lone unmarked squad and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself.

Even before the Castile verdict was announced, Pride organizers had already discussed plans to scale-back the police presence this year compared to the year before.

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"Police officers are more than just officers, they are human beings with families who are also part of this community".

Darcie Baumann, chair of Twin Cities Pride, defended the decision.

In a letter, the police chief - a former Grand Marshall of the Pride parade - voiced anger that LGBT cops would be excluded.

Castile's death stirred controversy after his girlfriend live streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, starting the live stream seconds after Castile was shot by the officer.

The parade, which draws about 350,000 people, has started in previous years with several marked squad cars and police officers.

"I understand people are angry and we can respect their feelings, but the reality is at the end of the day if we can't work together it becomes more challenging to become better as a community and to become better as a police department", Nash said.

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