MADISON, Wis. — Madison law enforcement groups won’t be marching in the city's upcoming Pride Parade after receiving pushback from the LGBTQ community, according to the event’s organizers.
OutReach LGBT Community Center board member Jill Nagler told the Wisconsin State Journal that LGBTQ community members voiced concerns about feeling unsafe with officers participating armed and in uniform. OutReach announced Friday that event organizers are rescinding parade applications from Madison and University of Wisconsin-Madison police and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.
OutReach had previously approved police marching in the parade Sunday as long as officers wore plainclothes and didn’t include a squad car. But some members of the LGBTQ community planned a counter-rally to express disappointment in police participation.
“I don’t want those who lack institutional power to be overlooked,” Nagler said.
Shawna Lutzow and fiancee Johanna Heineman-Pieper disapproved of OutReach’s initial decision to allow police to march as a group. The couple organized the Community Pride Coalition with other groups to protest police 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.
The decision Friday was a step in the right direction to make sure that people of color and marginalized groups feel included and heard in the community, Lutzow said.
Madison police Lt. Brian Chaney Austin, who founded Madison Police Department Pride, said he’s disappointed but hopes to further dialogue between the groups.
“There were some hearts broken (by OutReach’s decision), 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.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said the decision “is an opportunity to open the door to further dialogue with the LGBT community.”