What’s the plan for healing the chasm between cops and the LGBT community?

The decision by Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to forbid his officers from being in uniform for the city’s annual Pride parade is certainly going to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and police supporters.

Nothing occurs in a vacuum where the police are concerned — as the national crisis over NFL players taking a knee proved — and the decision will have the public discourse effect at least of making people choose sides. Are you for cops or for people who are gay? In 2018, as hard as this is to believe, you can’t be both, apparently even if you’re a gay cop.

This started last year, when organizers of Pride took to Facebook to urge police to lay low immediately after the Philando Castile verdict, in which a jury found a police officer not guilty of killing Castile. Required by law to lead the parade with a police car sweep of the route, organizers said they didn’t want a marching unit to lead the parade.

With the recent verdict in the Philando Castile case Twin Cities Pride has decided to forgo this part of the police participation in the parade for this year and respect the pain the community is feeling right now. There will just be one lone unmarked police car starting off the parade and there will limited police participation in the parade itself.

Shortly before the parade, organizers allowed the cops to march.

It’s been a year and the the gulf between police and organizers appears to have not been resolved.

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, the first openly gay chief, was in a tough spot, torn between her rank-and-file and a community of which she is a member. She at least had cred in both camps.

“It’s time to be lifting each other up, not excluding one another. Saddened to be shut out from Pride. Will I be welcomed next year?” she asked in a tweet.

No.

“Representatives have 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,” Chief Arradondo said.

Why not? It’s been a year.

Arradondo refused MPR News’ request for an interview.

Gay cops and those who support the LGBT community can still march in the parade if they want. They just can’t march in uniform.

Arradondo said in his statement that he hopes over the next year, the cops and the Pride organizers can heal their differences, assuming the differences within the LGBT community can be healed on the issue.

There’s no framework for exactly how that is supposed to happen.

Between now and Pride, it might not be a bad idea to stay out of the comments sections and talk shows.

  • MrE85

    I have no dogs in this fight, but the whole thing seems a bit petty and pointless at this point.

  • cjw

    Last year’s move by Pride was just stupid. Their community didn’t -and still doesn’t- have a credible beef with the police. As far as I know, Philando Castile’s case didn’t have anything to do with being LGBTQ.

    I can understand prohibiting wearing of uniforms if officers are NOT on duty. People see a uniform and assume they’re there in an official capacity. But, that should be the policy for every event, then. If a group of officers is representing the PD, then, by all means, they should be in uniform.

  • I think it’s interesting how we still seem to think we can tell other people what they can and cannot feel oppressed about. One thing that is being overlooked is there are a lot of people of color in our local gay community, and they have been oppressed by police, perhaps not for being gay, but for being people of color. My understanding is that’s why the uniforms cause problems and that those who didn’t want police in uniforms participating in Pride were doing so out of solidarity with people of color. Spending some time learning about intersectionality might be good for those who don’t understand what the issue is here.

    • I think the issue is pretty clear and it’s also clear that the Pride organizers are split on the question. So if they’re at odds with each other, it’s asking a lot for the rest of us to figure it out.

      But, and this is really the point, we’re going to have to move off where we are at some point. Anyone got a plan? Because it’s clear nobody else does.

      • I’m not sure I agree it’s that clear. The featured comment on this post pretty clearly demonstrates the lack of intersectional thinking taking place on this issue. Which is also a reason for why the Pride organizers are split on the question.

        Right now, the Minneapolis police chief is doing a better job of listening to people of color in the gay community than Pride organizers are. Which is good for the MPD, but pretty sad for Pride.

  • Mark_in_MN

    The idea that police have to wear their uniforms in order to be included and respected is just simply strange. As is the idea that this is somehow disrespectful of police. Police shouldn’t be allowed to wear their uniform off duty in any setting.

    • If that’s what they think is a big part of their identity, should they be required to mask that identity as a condition of participation? At best, that seems ironic.

      • The shirt they are being asked to wear in lieu of the uniform features their badge. How is that masking their identity as a police officer?

        • Under what license, then, do you get to dictate their identity or the expression thereof?

          • Mark_in_MN

            The police chief certainly can, and should, make regulations about how the police uniform is used and worn. It isn’t a personal choice in clothing, but about the powers of the city and government’s law enforcement role. How police officers project themselves in that role is certainly a legitimate and proper concern of the police department.

          • Right. But that’s not what this decision is. This decision is Arrondo responding to the split among Pride organizers over how and whether that identity should be expressed. It’s really a question the Pride organizers are going to have to agree on before the split with the cops can be addressed in a practical manner.

          • Mark_in_MN

            But it is about how, where, and when the uniform gets worn. That is what the police chief decided on. He made a good and reasonable decision there, which does seek to meet concerns of Pride organizers and police officers with an eye toward addressing an issue between them in a practical manner.

          • // meet concerns of Pride organizers

            Some Pride organizers. There is clearly conflict there.

            Meanwhile, back to the point of the post. Who’s got a plan for addressing this issue that hasn’t been resolved in more than a year?

          • Mark_in_MN

            The plan meets the concerns of Pride organizers who take issue with police in uniform and the concerns of Pride organizers who want to welcome police to march in the parade. As far as who has a plan to resolve this dispute, the police chief does. Why are we still looking for something else?

          • It’s not really a “plan” per se. It’s an acknowledgement, actually, that there isn’t one. What’s the plan for solving the core problem and what is that solution?

          • Mark_in_MN

            I disagree. I think it is a plan to solve this particular issue. It occurs against the backdrop of the larger problem of relations between the police and the community, especially communities of color and other minorities. That’s a problem that will be solved by substantially changing police training and procedure, how they relate to the public, and law governing police conduct. That’s a bigger issue than you seem to have in mind, and not one that will be prone to quick or easy fixes.

          • cjw

            I still don’t know what the issue is. Some Pride organizers are feeling angry at the police for perceived injustices against another group of people? Are they having a parade to celebrate being LGBTQ or are they having a parade to protest the police? As for “intersectional thinking,” are other “oppressors” being asked to stay away – say, realtors who participated in red-lining? Or, for that matter, anyone who is white?

          • If you mean identity in the same sense as someone’s identity as a person of color or a LGBTIQ community, I think that’s really conflating the issue. One is a job. The other is something you are born with and cannot change whether you like it or not.

            I would say part of the problem here is that conflation, which is also evident in the “Blue Lives Matter” stuff that sprung up in response to Black Lives Matter.

          • That’s your definition of identity. Why do you get to tell someone differently?

          • If someone wants to bring a case that the equal protection clause applies to the job you hold, I’ll gladly change my definition if they win.

          • Pride isn’t a government’s affirmation of identity. It’s an individual’s affirmation of their identity.

            But nice distraction, Mark.

            I still noticed you didn’t answer the question I posed to you, though.

          • I based my definition on the equal protection clause, in case that wasn’t clear. Pride isn’t telling these officers they cannot wear their uniforms, either. Their boss is.

          • As a response to a faction of Pride organizers not wanting cops at all. His announcement is a confirmation of failure, not an enactment of a plan.

            Whatever. Like I said, people will now choose sides: cops or gays.

            That’s not healthy for Minneapolis. It’s a shame people don’t recognize that. Yet.

          • I don’t think his announcement is a confirmation of failure. Nor is it about cops vs. gays. It’s about white people, including some Pride organizers, refusing to acknowledge what people of color are saying about their experiences of being treated poorly, in this case by cops. The same way we have men who refuse to acknowledge what women have said about being treated poorly. We need to do a better job of listening to people of color just like we do women.

            I think he’s choosing to ally himself with the group of Pride organizers who are recognizing and taking seriously that concerns that were raised about relations between the police and people of color and why the uniforms were creating problems.

            It seems pretty consistent with how he’s acted so far as chief in building bridges with other marginalized groups in Minneapolis and I believe it was one of the things he was tasked with when he was chosen.

          • So the plan now is to oust Pride organizers who don’t care about racial justice, is that how we’re supposed to see this?

          • I would like to think the plan is to keep working on educating Pride organizers who haven’t yet grasped why racial justice is something they should care about. I’m not involved in these conversations. I just know from people who are that they are taking place.

          • Mark_in_MN

            Thank you. This is right on target. I am am a gay man by my very nature. I am not my current employment.

          • And no one should ever tell you that you have to identify any different way. That’s a choice you have.

      • Mark_in_MN

        Then they need to understand that identity is about a person, not clothing. The uniform should be communicating that this is an on duty police officer who is working and able to assist. When an officer is off duty, in any setting or capacity, they should not be wearing that uniform because they are not filling the role it points to.

        • Who gets to decide a person’s identity?

          • Mark_in_MN

            No one is deciding anyone’s identity here. The uniform isn’t their identity. It is a uniform that communicates a specific role an individual is fulfilling as a public servant. It should be seen as a misuse of that uniform to wear it when not on the job. Why is this being turned into an identity issue rather than an issue of the appropriate use the uniform? It is turning this into being about someone’s identity, which is about a person not what they wear, that is making this murky and contentious.

          • // It is turning this into being about someone’s identity, which is about a person not what they wear, that is making this murky and contentious.

            Says you, of course. But why do you get to declare how someone chooses to identify?

            Take Lt. Tashia Hager, who wrote this on Facebook during last year’s fight.

            “Today I learned I was asked to step back into a closet by a group of people who should know better,” she wrote on the social media site. “I have been a part of the gay community in Portland for 25 years. I would like to think that the ideals of inclusion and acceptance are not only what the gay community preaches but it is also what it practices. To fail at this endeavor is a hypocrisy that I cannot ignore. I am proud to be a Portland Police Office where my sexual orientation has been more widely accepted than it has in our community at large.”

            Why do you get to tell her differently on the subject of how she chooses to express her identity?

          • Mark_in_MN

            She is completely free to express her identity as a part of the LGBT community and to make it know that she works as a police officer. Neither one is here being pushed into any closet. The question is whether they show their working in law enforcement by wearing the uniform of public servant or some other means. The use of that police uniform is not a personal choice, but one that is rightly regulated by the government whose power it represents, who employs people to fill the role of police officer, and thus is also properly and appropriately subject to political discussion about the proper role of police officers in our society and the use of the uniform. If, say, UPS were to tell employees they were not to wear their UPS uniforms there may or may not be political discussion about that, but it is appropriately in their domain to consider how their identity and branding as a company gets used. We wouldn’t be taking about expressing someone’s identity as a UPS driver, either. We might be taking about freedom to express identity as LGBT+, but not as UPS employees.

          • //. Neither one is here being pushed into any closet.z

            She obviously disagrees wth you.