Were Pride Parade organizers bullied?

Pride Parade officials reversing the decision to limit cops from the parade shows how “Blacks have no rights [the SYSTEM] is bound to respect”

The reversal of Pride Parade leadership from its earlier decision to “limit” (not exclude) the participation of local cops in this year’s Pride Parade and Festival, makes it clear that disrespect for Black folks is the order of the day in the Twin Cities. It has been for some time while claiming to be a bastion of liberalism, progressivism and decency. It is neither.

The truth is Black folks in this locale have long been treated as if they have no rights that White folks (especially those in power) are bound to respect.

After St. Anthony cop, Jeronimo Yanez, got away with killing Philando Castile, the Twin Cities Pride Parade organizers were attempting to be sensitive to the community’s pain by limiting police participation in this year’s parade. The organizers wrote on Facebook, “We always have several police departments wanting to roll down Hennepin with lights and sirens to participate in this announcement that the parade is about to begin. With the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case, Twin Cities Pride has decided to forgo this part of the police participation in the parade for this year and respect the pain the community is feeling right now.”

It was a request that made sense, considering that people’s feelings are still raw from seeing the squad car video and trying to make sense of the senseless killing and subsequent senseless verdict.

But, both St. Paul and Minneapolis police leaders acted as if someone had shot their dog. Even the heads of the cops’ federation chimed in, as if they have some kind of moral standing.

“If your organization is about love and acceptance…it’s kinda ironic,” said St. Paul police assistant head Nash. “Members of the LGBTQ cross a lot of occupations.”

Dave Titus, the borderline thug, who heads the St Paul Police Federation claimed, “To exile gay and straight officers from the parade runs counter to the values the organization claims to promote.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Janae Harteau, who is an open lesbian, claimed that “the decision was ‘divisive’ at a time when the police were trying to mend fractured ties with marginalized communities. 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,” she wrote. “Police officers are more than just officers, they are human beings with families who are also part of this community.”

Harteau has proven that a Gay/Queer person can run, be just as ruthless, dishonest and disrespectful in leading the occupying and oppressive force that we know as the police. And this statement is further proof. There can be no mending of so-called fractured ties, unless the police stop over-policing and harassing the community and serving as “patrollers” enforcing unjust laws.

Harteau claims that the cops are human beings! If that’s the case, why didn’t they act like human beings and respect the request of another set of human beings who had asked for them not to be included as parade participants for a year because their very presence is a reminder of the community’s pain? It’s important to note that at no time did organizers suggest not using the police as they historically do at the festival as security.

Incidentally, the police didn’t act like human beings in this case, they acted like armed bullies! The correct human response would have been to say, I see the community needs its space, so we will give it to them. But the cops couldn’t give that to the community, because they don’t respect the community. Their real role is an oppressive one, which is to remind us at ALL TIMES who is boss!

The truth is they are police first and human beings second!

Moreover, this dispels the notion that we live in a free, open and democratic society. If we lived in a free and open and democratic society, we could ask the police to sit it out and they would comply. The parade organizers permit required that a cop car lead the parade, and that is all that the Parade organizers were bound to; they weren’t required to allow police to march in it.

But Harteau and her gang bullied the festival committee and insisted that they be included, because the police would have lost propaganda points.

Even the capitulation on the part of the liberal organizers hinted at disrespect. While they were concerned about hurting the cops’ feelings, there is no evidence that they included Black people in the discussion with them and the police.

Yet the Star Tribune quoted Pride officials as vowing “to continue listening to minority groups.”

Pride Executive Director Dot Belstler said, “To our transgender and people of color communities, we will continue to respect your pain and angst by bridging the divide and continuing conversations on both sides of this issue, to ensure we consider alternatives that make each group feel comfortable and safe.”

Ironically the Pride Parade came about as a way for the LGBTQ community to assert its right to exist, to assert its humanity and its right to be different. It was also partially organized as a push back against police harassment.

The Pride organizers should have stuck to their decision; if they really meant what they said about recognizing the community’s pain, they would have stood on it. Their spinelessness will only encourage more police intransigence in the future.

Since Pride organizers say they are listening, they should know that oppressed communities don’t respect folks talking about “feeling” their pain, they respect folks who rather than talk about it, be about it! Oppressed people learn early that the problem of life is not the problem of evil but the problem of good.

Imagine that, the Twin Cities can’t have a parade without the cops (who Harteau calls fellow human beings) and in an open, just and democratic society!

Justice then peace.