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For second year in a row, SFPD to ramp up security for Pride events

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San Francisco police plan to increase the presence of law enforcement this weekend for SF Pride events. (Sarahbeth Maney/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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For the second year in a row, San Francisco’s Pride celebration Saturday and Sunday will have stepped up security at its Civic Center Plaza location and along the parade route, according to police and Pride organizers.

The attention on security over the two-day event is not new in San Francisco, as attacks on gay bars and clubs as well as other Pride events continue to occur across the U.S. and world, even though there are no known threats to the San Francisco event.

The most horrific recent act of violence aimed at place LGBTQ people congregate was last year’s attack at an Orlando nightclub, in which 49 people were killed.

Earlier this month, police in Columbus, Ohio, opened an investigation into Facebook threats made by a school teacher aimed at the city’s pride event. And in Tel Aviv, Israel, police arrested a man on June 3 for threatening violence against the Pride parade there.

Police activity during Pride will also address the kind of random violence that occurs at large events and has happened at past Pride events. For instance, there was a shooting that injured a street vendor near the Civic Center the day before the parade in 2015.

While Pride organizers would not speak to these incidents, the organization did say security is a priority.

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“San Francisco Pride works closely with San Francisco police, fire and all other relevant agencies to develop safety and security plans for the parade and celebration,” George F. Ridgely, Pride’s executive director, said in a statement. “Every year is dynamic and informed by current events.”

In addition to cooperating with law enforcement, Pride organizers are asking participants to be vigilant and report any suspicious packages and or activity.

To enter the Civic Center event this weekend, revelers must pass through a screening area, which will include metal detectors. The event will prohibit a long list of items that includes weapons, drugs, alcohol and large bags.

The 47th Annual San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, which begins at 10:30 a.m. and will stretch down Market Street between Beale and Eighth streets, will also be closely monitored, said police.

Police spokesperson Officer Gisselle Talkoff said the public should expect increased police presence of both uniform and plainclothes officers. A mobile team from the Department’s Special Operations Bureau will also be present during the events, said Talkoff, who added that federal law enforcement will also aiding the department to ensure security.

“Expect high visibility throughout The City,” said Talkoff. She noted that there are no known threats against the weekend’s events.

Heightened security is not only focused on anti-LGBT violence. Recent terrorist attacks in London, England and Nice, France where large groups of people congregate are reasons for concern, said Talkoff.

“At large events we usually send out more officers out there just because of the large number of people,” she said.

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