MPD chief responds to 'divisive' decision to limit police participation in Pride parade

- Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau says she is “beyond disappointed” that the organizers of Twin Cities Pride did not talk with her before deciding to scale back law enforcement presence in the downtown parade this year following the Philando Castile shooting verdict. 

Organizers announced Wednesday there will be no contingent of police cars starting off the parade as there had been in years past out of respect for “the pain the community is feeling." Instead, one unmarked police car will start the parade and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself.

FIRST REPORT: Twin Cities Pride to limit police participation in parade after Yanez verdict

In a letter sent to Dot Belstler, the executive director of Twin Cities Pride, Harteau called it a “divisive decision” that hurt members of the police community, including LGBT members of the Minneapolis Police Department and their families.

“I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal and the message of division, not inclusion, is hurtful to many of us,” Harteau said. “Police officers are more than just officers they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.”

Harteau said the MPD has worked hard to build relationships with the LGBT community in Minneapolis, including assigning a full-time officer to the community engagement team as an LGBT liaison. Harteau herself led the Pride parade as the Grand Marshall three years ago.

The police chief has requested a meeting with the executive director of Twin Cities Pride to discuss the decision and how they can work together in the future.

When Fox 9 reached out to Twin Cities Pride, a representative said Pride staff and board members are "actively in discussions" with those impacted by the decision.

"Our goal is to create a cohesive, unifying solution that is inclusive of each perspective on this topic," said the statement in part.

Despite the decision, Harteau said MPD officers assigned to work the parade will still do their jobs to make it a “safe and successful event.”

Complete letter from Chief Janeé Harteau

Dot -

I have spent the past couple days taking in as much information as I could, regarding all that has been said about officers not being welcome to march in this year’s PRIDE parade. Understanding the magnitude of recent events, I truly wanted to reflect on your decision and the reaction by members of the community.

I am beyond disappointed that you didn’t feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decision that has really hurt so many in our community including the LGBT members of this Department (and their family members), and those who serve and protect throughout our state.

Despite your decision, I assure you that as we have in the past, our team of officers assigned to work the parade will do all they can to ensure it is a safe and successful event. Not only is that our responsibility, it is also the expectation of those we proudly serve, which certainly includes those attending this year’s parade.

I really struggle to see how this decision helps our community heal and the message of division and not inclusion is hurtful to many of us. Police officers are more than just officers they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.

As you know, the MPD has done much in the way of community outreach with our LGBT residents and visitors. We adopted the nation’s first transgender policy and have assigned a full-time officer to our Community Engagement Team as a LGBT liaison. I know historically, our minority communities have had struggles with police interactions; this is why we’ve worked so hard to build relationships that I still feel are both valued and respected. It is one reason I was so proud to lead the PRIDE parade as the Grand Marshall three years ago. It is also the reason we had such a large presence at last year’s parade following the horrific and tragic events in Orlando.

I would like to meet with you, not only about your decision to exclude officers, but on how we can work together in the coming months to make sure everyone feels both safe and welcome.

Sincerely,

Janeé L. Harteau
Chief of Police – City of Minneapolis

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