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Minneapolis police asked to limit presence at pride parade

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves to spectators at the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday

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 protest also happened just days after the Minnesota police officer who was charged with manslaughter for shooting a black man multiple times during a traffic stop past year was found not guilty by a jury.

Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, who broke barriers as the first lesbian to lead the department, called the decision "divisive" in a letter to parade organizers Thursday: "I am beyond disappointed that you didn't feel you could talk with me before making such a divisive decision that has really hurt so many in our community including the LGBT members of this Department (and their family members)". Law enforcement officers are now welcome to "participate in the parade by holding the Unity flag or marching alongside the Rainbow, Bisexual, or Transgender flags".

"We recognize this decision has made members of the law enforcement community feel excluded, which is contrary to our mission to foster inclusion", said the statement from Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride, and its board of directors.

Twin Cities Pride executive director Dot Belstler wrote in a Facebook post that a lone police vehicle would be clearing the parade route prior to the parade as is required by Minneapolis statute.

Earlier this week, parade organizers announced they would keep police participation to the minimum required by city ordinances to preserve safety.

Later, she replied to someone on Twitter who told her not to attend.

"For an organization that prides itself on being accepting and inclusive, the hypocrisy amazes me", he said.

They were also opposed to the decision to extend an invitation last-minute for police officers to take part in the parade.

Among the largest pride celebrations in the country, the Twin Cities festival now draws 350,000 people every year.

Minneapolis and St. Paul police will still have recruitment booths up at Pride events throughout the weekend. At the time they said they were trying to respect the pain felt by some following last week's acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed the black school cafeteria worker during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July.

Chief Harteau did thank Pride organizers for their decision, but Union President Bob Kroll said it's too late.

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