They said in a statement that they’re trying to respect the pain that many people are feeling following last week’s acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed the black school cafeteria worker during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July.
The organizers said they’re required to have a police car lead the parade to make sure the route is clear, so this year it will be a lone unmarked squad car and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself. The parade, which draws about 350,000 people, has started in previous years with several marked squad cars with lights and sirens, as well as officers marching.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, called the decision shameful and disturbing.
“For an organization that prides itself on being accepting and inclusive, the hypocrisy amazes me,” he said.
St. Paul Police Deputy Chief Mary Nash, the department’s LGBTQ liaison, said 12 to 25 St. Paul officers have taken part in previous parades. Some are LGBTQ officers, while others walked as supporters, Nash said.
“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.”
Twin Cities Pride Board Chairwoman Darcie Baumann said they did not intend to make anyone feel excluded.
“Unfortunately, we have hurt and offended the LGBTQ police officers, and that was not at all our intent,” Baumann said. “But in the wake of the verdict, we want to be sensitive to the population that is grieving … and seeing those uniforms brings angst and tension and the feeling of unrest.”