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Protesters Block Pride Parade, Demand Police Be Removed – CBS Minnesota / WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Protesters demonstrating against the police and the verdict in the Philando Castile shooting trial blocked the Twin Cities Pride Parade Sunday morning, delaying its start by more than an hour.

The Twin Cities Pride parade, which draws thousands to downtown Minneapolis each year, was slated to start at 11 a.m., but dozens of protesters blocked Hennepin Avenue just as the procession was about to get underway.

Chanting “no justice, no Pride,” the protesters blocked the path of the parade, moving from intersection to intersection. Over a megaphone, they gave a list of demands to Pride organizers, which included the “total elimination” of police at all future Pride events.

“No racist Pride today,” #BlackLivesMatter supporters chant as they block @TwinCitiesPride Parade. pic.twitter.com/gKvIm2euOG

— Susan-Elizabeth (@susanelizabethL) June 25, 2017

Police are on scene but standing a distance back. pic.twitter.com/Ne5PppmYny

— Susan-Elizabeth (@susanelizabethL) June 25, 2017

Many of the protesters carried Black Lives Matter signs. Over the megaphone, they accused Twin Cities Pride of perpetuating white supremacy, and they urged parade-goers to join them in protest, although few did.

The protest took about an hour to move through the parade route, backing up traffic at several downtown intersections. All the while, it remained peaceful. There’s been no word of arrests, although shouting matches broke out between some protesters and parade-goers.

Shortly after noon, the protesters left Hennepin Avenue and the parade started, although it was rushed along so that streets could be cleared on time.

Police officers march about midway through parade. pic.twitter.com/YxICH3qs97

— Susan-Elizabeth (@susanelizabethL) June 25, 2017

We’ve seen several spectators jump out of @TwinCitiesPride Parade crowd to hug marching police officers. pic.twitter.com/wmMEn6E6i6

— Susan-Elizabeth (@susanelizabethL) June 25, 2017

The protest comes following a week of discussions over the role of law enforcement in the Pride parade. Initially, Pride organizers chose to lessen the visibility of police around the parade and forgo the participation of officers following the acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez in the death of Castile.

But late last week Pride organizers walked back their decision after a talk with Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau. On Thursday, the openly-gay police chief issued a strongly-worded letter to Pride organizers, who later met with her and came to an agreement.

The outcome was that officers could march in the parade, although the procession would still be led by a single, unmarked squad car. In a statement, Pride organizers said that their initial decision to bar police from marching in the parade did not align with their mission to “foster inclusion.”

The protest at the parade is one of many in the wake of the Yanez verdict. The former St. Anthony police officer was found not guilty of all charges in the death of Castile, a black man, who was shot seven times during a traffic stop last summer.

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