Minneapolis chief disappointed by pride parade

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Twin Cities Pride organizers said Friday that an unmarked squad vehicle will still lead the front of Sunday's Pride parade, but they invited 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.

- Twin Cities Pride organizers now say they will allow police officers to participate in the start of Sunday's parade after receiving backlash for their decision to scale back law enforcement presence at the event.

But the Twin Cities Pride Parade and Festival in Minneapolis, which draws about 350,000 people each year, is working "to balance the concerns of the community and our concerns for making this family-friendly event a safe and welcoming place for everyone to attend", organizers said in the Tuesday statement. They cited tensions over last week's acquittal of a suburban Minneapolis officer in the fatal shooting of black driver Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer.

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St. Paul Deputy Police Chief Mary Nash, who is also the department's LGBTQ liaison, said she understands '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'.

In this image made from July 6, 2016, video captured by a camera in the squad auto of St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer is shown after shooting into the vehicle at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., as the 4-year-old daughter of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, starts to get out of the auto and is grabbed by an officer.

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. Castile, a black motorist, was fatally shot by former Minnesota police officer Yanez, a Latino.

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In this image made from July 6, 2016, video captured by a camera in the squad auto of St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer is shown after shooting into the vehicle at Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., as the 4-year-old daughter of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, starts to get out of the auto and is grabbed by an officer.

In her letter, Harteau says she struggles to see "how this decision helps our community heal".

"I look forward to seeing everybody out at the parade on Sunday and I want to wish everybody a happy Pride", she said while standing in front of a rainbow flag with a large Minneapolis police badge on it.

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"There will be just one lone unmarked police auto starting off the parade and there will be limited police participation in the parade itself", she said. However, an unmarked police auto will still lead the parade.

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