Editorial: Police, Pride and a better way to protest in Minneapolis

Minneapolis is a city with one of the largest gay populations in the country. This means that creating an inclusive space for those in the LGBT community needs to be a priority. The annual Gay Pride parade is a celebration of all people that exist within Minnesota and across the country. 

This year, controversy around the police’s presence and participation during the parade drew harsh criticism. With the recent verdict in favor of police officer Jeronimo Yanez, issues around police brutality have become highly divisive. The pain and frustration that the decision caused has resulted in the marred image of a police officer. Thus, expectedly, with the intersections of the gay and black community at the pride parade, there was a buildup of tension. 

The organizers of the parade decided that an unmarked police squad car would lead the parade to ensure the safety of the marchers. While this was the plan, Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted the parade for an hour, demanding that the police be removed from the parade. It is important to note that the protesters were peaceful and did not create any major problems. They were respectful of the police, allowing both the parade and the police presence to continue. 

We agree that police departments around the country have had incredible wrongdoings. The job of the police is to ensure safety of the various communities. When they fail, it’s important that we hold them accountable. When that doesn’t happen, the anger and frustration is justified. However, that does not mean that police should not be allowed to join the protests. 

One chief criticism of the police has been their inability to treat a community of people as equals, thus responding to African Americans and other minority groups with prejudice. By treating police officers the same way, we lose the moral high ground. Police reform does not happen by marginalizing the police. 

It is very important that we appreciate the fact that there are members of the police that want to support both BLM and Pride movements. If anything, we should be encouraging more police officers to march, showing their solidarity with the communities. 

The reality is that one of the solutions to many of these problems is increasing the representation of the gay and black communities in the police force. If communities continue to avoid the police, pushing away any police presence — even those officers that recognize the changes — things will never improve. 

Protests ought to be a demonstration of the philosophies of a movement. Demanding that police be removed from a protest is not representative of a progressive ideology. It doesn’t represent the values of inclusivity and the desire for change. Change is only possible if people that are protesting work together with the police force, governing bodies at various levels and institutions that will advocate for police reforms. As hard as that will be, it is the only way to ensure sustainable reform.