MINNEAPOLIS – This year’s Ashley Rukes Pride Parade drew tens of thousands of people, including an unexpected group of protesters.
The parade, which began at Third Street South and continued south down Hennepin Avenue to Loring Park, was paused minutes after it began when anti-police protesters blocked the procession, the Star Tribune reported.
According to the Pioneer Press, for nearly 20 minutes protesters held up the parade chanting “No justice, no peace, no pride in police.” It is estimated as many as 200 people participated in the disturbance, holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Philando.” At one point, protesters staged a die-in, lying down in the middle of the street.
The protest was driven by the recent acquittal of St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez in last year’s shooting of Philando Castile. As Alpha News reported, Pride organizers originally attempted to limit police officer involvement in the parade. Minneapolis Police Chief Janeè Harteau, herself a member of the LGBT community, expressed her disappointment over the “divisive” decision.
“I am beyond disappointed that you didn’t feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decisions that has really hurt so many in our community including the LGBT members of this Department (and their family members), and those who serve and protect through our state,” Harteau wrote in a letter to Twin Cities Pride’s Executive Director Dot Belstler.
Following harsh criticism, Pride decided to reverse their original anti-police request, re-welcoming police officers to participate in the festivities. The decision sparked the Black Lives Matter protest.
Eventually the parade was able to continue after protesters moved their disturbance two blocks ahead of the procession. No arrests were made according to the Star Tribune.