Updated: 4 p.m. | Posted 12:42 p.m.
A group of protesters held up Sunday's annual Ashley Rukes Pride Parade in downtown Minneapolis shortly after it got underway at 11 a.m. Holding banners, they stood along the Hennepin Avenue parade route.
Protesters chanted "Justice for Philando" and "Black Lives Matter Here." They also objected to organizers' last minute reversal to allow police officers to participate in the parade.
At 12th Street, protesters held a die-in and a moment of silence for Philando Castile, an African-American man who was killed by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop last July. Last week Yanez was acquitted of all charges in Castile's death.
Austin Jackson, 20, of St. Paul said he felt compelled to be there and "physically do something." He marched and shouted through a bullhorn..
"It doesn't matter how old you are, how you dress, how you act, it's your blackness that matters to the police," said Jackson. Police have shown that they have an irrational fear of blackness and people of color."
Max Folio of Grand Rapids watched from the sidelines. This was her first time at the Pride Parade.
"Police are supposed to be like a source of safety, especially with all the stuff going on, with like all the hate against the LGBTQ community, so having them here is like kind of safety, but with what's been going on, you don't know anymore... you want them for safety, but you don't trust them."
An estimated crowd of tens of thousands of people attended the Pride Parade, including Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau.
Two days ago, after facing mounting criticism, Pride organizers reversed their earlier decision and allowed a uniformed police presence in the parade.
Along the parade route, some participants offered colored beads to officers, hugging and thanking them for their service.
Chelsea St. Peter and Bryan Martyn, both of Minneapolis, said the Pride Parade is all about inclusion, and supporting one another.
"At this point, I just want to enjoy pride," said St. Peter. Martyn joined in, "Exactly, that's what we're all here to do...everybody say love. Happy pride."
The Twin Cities Pride festival will continue until 6 p.m. Sunday with activities at Loring Park.
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