LGBT police officers banned from marching in pride parade

LGBT police officers have been banned from marching in a pride parade after a local community had concerns about “feeling unsafe” if they participated.

Law enforcement groups in Madison, Wisconsin, received the notice from event organisers despite previously being approved.

OutReach LGBT Community Center, who made the decision, told local news outlet the Wisconsin State Journal that there were concerns with officers participating armed and in uniform.

Originally the organisers had approved police marching in plain clothes and without a squad car, but members of the LGBT community still protested their involvement.

Members of the local community Shawna Lutzow and fiancee Johana Heineman-Pieper cited concerns for people of colour and marginalized groups, if the police were to join the parade.

The couple organised a Community Pride Coalition with other groups to protest the law enforcement’s involvement in the parade.  

“We are not promoting police marching as a contingent, which is very different from not allowing officers to march as individuals in other organizations or from attending the event as a spectator,” said Heineman-Pieper.

Madison police Lt. Brian Chaney Austin, who founded Madison Police Department Pride, said he’s disappointed but hopes to further dialogue between the groups, according to the Associated Press.

“There were some hearts broken, there were some tears shed, but we know there’s work that needs to be done and we want to take that on,” Austin said.

Police were present and correct (Tristan Fewings/Getty)

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the decision “is an opportunity to open the door to further dialogue with the LGBT community.”

Earlier this year in Toronto, uniformed police were told to revoke their application to march in that city’s parade, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) reported.
While police officers in Minneapolis were instructed by their chief not to wear their uniforms in the parade and were also met with protesters against police brutality, the Star Tribune reported.