OutReach withdraws Pride Parade applications from law enforcement

MADISON, Wis. - Area law enforcement will not be invited to this year's OutReach Pride Police. 

According to a statement posted Friday on Facebook, OutReach, a Madison based LGBT Community Center, has withdrawn applications from the Madison Police Department, the University of Wisconsin Police Department and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. 

The organization said the decision is in response to criticism in the LGBT community of law enforcement.

"Our community is facing complex, unprecedented times, where power is a fleeting commodity for our most vulnerable members, especially queer and transgender persons of color," said Michael Ruiz, OutReach board president. "Those whose voices are silenced due to gender and sexual orientation, as well as the intersections of race, class, ethnicity, gender, ability, immigration status, age, and lack institutional power, need us to amplify our voices."

Madison Police will still patrol the parade, as required by the organization's permit through the city of Madison. 

The organization also encourages officers in plain clothes to attend the parade.

The UW Madison Police Department responded to the statement on Friday. 

"We are disappointed in today's decision by OutReach -- in particular because of our continued efforts to find a method of participation that was acceptable to all of our community members (such as marching in the parade without uniforms or police vehicles)," the statement said. 

The Madison Police Department will participate in a listening session on 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13 to discuss the department's participation in the parade. The session will be moderated by Karl Van Lith, a city employee working with civil rights.

The OutReach Pride parade and rally is scheduled for noon on Sunday, August 19 on the Capitol square.

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