Update 1:43 pm Friday 6/23/17: Twin Cities Pride officials announced in a Facebook post on they are now allowing law enforcement to march in this year’s Pride parade
Update 4:34 pm Friday 6/23/17: Mark Lakosky, President Local 82 confirmed that Local 82 will be participating in this year’s Pride parade.
The Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) Local 82 union confirmed today that they are also withdrawing from the Pride parade in order to show solidarity with local law enforcement.
This decisions comes after Twin Cities (TC) Pride asked law enforcement to have a smaller presence this year due to what TC Pride said were community concerns over the recent acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez was charged in the death of Philando Castile, who Yanez shot and killed during a traffic stop last year. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded the aftermath of the shooting on a widely circulated Facebook Live video.
In past years law enforcement has led the march with multiple marked police cars leading the way. This year, the parade will be led by one unmarked police car as required by law.
Yesterday, The Civic Observer reported that the Hennepin County Medical Center decided not to have an ambulance in the march this year.
The MFD Local 82 has taken it a step further by not only withdrawing support for MFD firetrucks in the parade but also not supporting personnel from Local 82 marching in an official capacity.
“We have decided not to participate which is very sad because we’ve been involved for years but we’ve been really heavily involved and really grown our support with our department this past 6, 7, 8 years,” said Mark Lokosky, Local 82 President
Lokosky said Mayor Betsy Hodges “could order rigs in the parade and order staff to drive [the] rig[s],” and that he would put out a statement in regards to such an order if that were to happen.
Eric Frought, the Mayor’s Communication Director, said there are currently no plans to issue such an order.
According to Lokosky, members of the LGBTQ+ community within the MFD voiced concerns over the treatment of local law enforcement by TC Pride and agreed that the MFD Local 82 should not participate in this year’s march.
“Quite frankly, we can’t support anything that excludes one group for whatever reason or another,” said Lokosky “I think it’s a step backwards for such a large organization that’s made great strides and kind of led the way in the country on many things.”
Stephanie Johnson, MFD Fire Captain and gay woman, said she told Local 82 and other members of the MFD that
“I am not going to attend this year’s Pride parade and that I’m going to encourage other firefighters and EMS personnel to stand in solidarity against exclusion from the Pride parade,”
The uniformed personnel (police, fire, EMS) that show up to march in the parade, it’s on their off time and we’re simply stating to the LGBT community that we see you and that we hear you and that we support you…the very officers that are showing up to show their support to the LGBT community are the one’s that they’re trying to exclude.”
Battalion Chief Bryan Tyner confirmed that the MFD will still be servicing the area of the TC Pride event and parade.
The media contact for TC Pride did not respond to a request for comment regarding this article before publication.