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‘Pride, not prejudice’: Despite protest interruption, Pride parade proceeds

June 24, 2018 GMT

As tens of thousands of people watched, the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade proceeded down Hennepin Avenue more than an hour behind schedule Sunday afternoon after being delayed by antipolice protesters.

The protesters had said Saturday they would interrupt the parade, an announcement they made before Saturday nights fatal police shooting of 31-year-old Thurman Blevins in north Minneapolis. That shooting became the focal point of Sundays protest by activists claiming affiliation with a number of groups.

The parade, the highlight of busy Pride weekend in the Twin Cities, featured 149 organizations on floats, vehicles or marching in groups. Businesses, civic groups, political leaders and candidates and churches signed up early to be part of the event, whose attractions range from the raucous to the family-friendly.

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Through the years, the event has often served as the local ground zero for expression of views about broader cultural issues.

In 2017, the parade was briefly stopped by protesters after a whirlwind controversy about whether uniformed police officers should participate in the parade they had been hastily excluded, then hastily reinvited. In 2016, it provided a place to mourn for the victims of a gun massacre in a gay nightclub in Florida. In 2013, it was the focal point of celebration over Minnesotas legalization of same-sex marriage.

This year, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told Minneapolis officers not to march in uniform. Representatives had conveyed to me that there is still a great deal of pain and harm that has occurred in their community, specifically our LGBTIQ communities of color, which has not been completely heard and addressed, he said last week.

Officers not in uniform were allowed to march and wore rainbow shirts with police badge designs on the front.

Early Sunday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob tweeted that he had canceled his plans to be at the parade. I will not be marching in todays Pride Parade, he said. My attention and work ... will be on last nights shooting. As soon as I am able, I will be joining the community to mourn, to listen and to provide support.

Minneapolis and Metro Transit police officers who provided security at the event chatted with parade watchers, accepted bottled water from participants on a hot day and chuckled with appreciative onlookers as a couple of flamboyant Delta Airlines employees danced a storm with paradegoers during the demonstration-delayed parade.

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On balance, the event was festive and the crowd appreciative-to-roaring for employee marching performers from Delta, Cargill, General Mills, other employers and affinity groups, local politicos, and a Minnesota Department of Transportation plow that sported a sign: We clear snow for everyone.

Pride, not prejudice, said attendee Michael Peterson. All communities get together. People from all walks of life. Thats a good thing.

This years parade featured a first: a group from an African-American church from the Twin Cities.

Kingdom Life Church, led by Pastor David Keaton and has been worshiping at venues in the north metro area, will be No. 110 in the parade lineup.

Keaton, in a Sunday morning interview, said Dennis Spears, the Twin Cities actor and singer and a member of Kingdom Life, organized the involvement of church volunteers. He noted that the church supports a variety of progressive causes.

He concluded that the New Testament calls on Christians to love all their neighbors with dignity and respect.

Neal St. Anthony 612-673-7144