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SF police to step up security for Pride celebrations

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A San Francisco police officer walks down Market Street wearing a rainbow-colored sash while patrolling the Pride Parade. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Revelers coming to San Francisco for Pride celebrations this weekend should expect another year of heightened security during the parade and celebrations at Civic Center Plaza, according to police.

With no official party in the Castro leading up to the annual Pride parade, huge crowds are expected to gather outside City Hall on Saturday and Sunday, where attendees will pass through metal detectors or be screened with handheld wands.

“There will be security screening checkpoints as there have been in the past few years,” Chief Bill Scott told the Police Commission last week. “We found that to be very, very valuable in terms of increasing and enhancing the public safety of this event and that will continue this coming year.”

The San Francisco Police Department stepped up security for the celebrations in recent years after shootings at Pride events in The City and in the wake of the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

Random violence in the past killed the annual Pink Saturday party, which used to be held on the day before the Pride parade. The City last held an iteration of the event in the Castro in 2015, after sponsors pulled support in response to violence.

This year at Civic Center, Pride spokesperson Fred Lopez said attendees should “expect very similar security screenings as in 2017 and 2016.”

Police are discouraging attendees from bringing bags to Civic Center. Bags larger than 18 in. by 18 in. will not be allowed into the festival area, according to police.

While alcohol will be sold in the Civic Center venue, no outside alcohol will be allowed inside.

The SFPD said there will be a “significant police presence” along the parade route and at the Civic Center celebrations, including members of the Special Operations Bureau, which consists of tactical and homeland security units. Police will also be cooperating with state and federal law enforcement.

The celebrations are expected to draw more than 1 million visitors to The City.

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