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June 24-25: Pride in Minnesota, Fighting Gay Oppression

In Loring Park, Minneapolis, the 2017 Pride Festival will bring around 350,000 people together for joy and acceptance. Saturday hours are 10am – 10pm and Sunday hours are 10am – 6pm. Gay Pride month is in June because on June 28th, 1969, police officers harassingly raided the Stonewall Inn, which began riots outside the Inn that lasted for days. The Stonewall Inn housed many gays, lesbians, transgenders, and homeless youth. In those days, gay and lesbians were looking for places they could express themselves freely without ridicule.

This raid and riot at the Stonewall Inn would lead to the creation of gay activist organizations and eventually on June 28th, 1970, the first gay pride marches in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. On June 26th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in every state in the country. Although some small jurisdictions refuse to allow same-sex marriages, national gay pride has won many victories and continues to do so.

With the history gay liberations have with police officers, it seemed reasonable for organizers of the Minneapolis Pride to ask police officers not to march during the event in uniform following the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez after his killing of Philando Castile. Police officers, especially the first openly lesbian Minneapolis police chief, Janeé Harteau, found this request to be “divisive” during a time when police are trying to mend fences with minority communities.

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Janeé Harteau Photo by Elizabeth Flores

On social media, this restriction of police attending the march led to applaud of Harteau for expressing her disapproval of the request and others wanting the police chief to use this as a lesson for their departments. Pride officials were asking for minimal uniformed police officers at the event, the only uniformed officers they were allowing were for legal safety reasons.

Pride Board Chairwoman, Darcie Baumann, stated before the reversal that “unfortunately, we have hurt and offended the LGBTQ police officers, and that was not at all our intent, but in the wake of the verdict, we want to be sensitive to the population that is grieving … and seeing those uniforms brings angst and tension and the feeling of unrest.”

After meeting with Janeé Harteau, Pride officials decided they would not limit police participation in the Pride festival. Pride officials still maintain that they condemn Jeronimo Yanez and the decision by the jury to find him not-guilty. Pride officials reversed limiting uniformed police presence through their continued effort to find new ways to bring people together instead of separating them.

The Pride festival will have 400 booths, 40 booth vendors, 4 free stages with music, and many different performances. It is advertised as “free and fun for the whole family.” Now that the event will be without more controversial issues, it seems like it will be a big event this year instead of a protested one.

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