Pride Fest leaders apologize, invite cops to march in parade

A float from W Minneapolis in The Foshay
A float from W Minneapolis in The Foshay carried dancers.
Courtney Perry for MPR News 2015

Twin Cities Pride Fest leaders on Friday changed course and said they will allow police officers to participate in Sunday's parade.

The group had faced mounting criticism after saying earlier in the week it would break with tradition and not allow a uniformed presence at the start of the parade because of the controversy surrounding the recent acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the July shooting death of Philando Castile.

The criticism included a strong statement on Thursday from Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, the city's first openly gay chief, who expressed her unhappiness and said the decision was hurtful to many officers.

"It's time to be lifting each other up, not excluding one another. Saddened to be shut out from Pride. Will I be welcomed next year?" she said on Twitter.

After meeting with Harteau and other leaders, Pride Fest executive director Dot Belstler on Friday apologized to law enforcement and invited police to participate in the parade.

"We recognize this decision has made members of the law enforcement community feel excluded, which is contrary to our mission to foster inclusion," Belstler said in a statement. "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."

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