SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — San Francisco’s Gay Pride celebrations could draw as many as a million visitors to the downtown area, and unprecedented security measures will be taken to protect those who attend the events in the wake of the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.
The mass murder in the Orlando Pulse nightclub that claimed 49 lives prompted city officials in the Bay Area to provide a much stronger security presence than in years past.READ MORE: Demonstration in Oakland to Protest Police Shootings Turns Violent
San Francisco’s Deputy Police Chief Mike Redmond told KCBS that the department will be ready for the Pride weekend.
“You’ll see a very high visible presence of police officers. The officers will be very engaged, and aware of the surroundings with a large crowd. We’ll also be using plainclothes officers throughout the venues,” Redmond said.
Redmond said police forces will be increased by 20 to 25 percent.
Excluding the parade, people attending Pride festival celebrations at Civic Center Plaza will have to go through security screening. Bags larger than 18” x 18” will not be permitted inside those venues.
City Supervisor Scott Weiner, whose district includes the Castro told KCBS that the LGBT community is unified.READ MORE: Man Ripping Down Flyers Promoting AAPI Anti-Hate Rally Caught on Camera in Mountain View
“Nothing is going to get us down. You can attack us. You can beat us. You can bully us. You can kill us, and we’re just going to keep coming back stronger than before,” Weiner said.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said the massacre in Orlando will likely mean an even larger turnout for Pride celebrations than ever.
“It appears that we’ll have even more people that will come to our Pride celebration throughout the weekend,” Lee said.
Sunday’s parade will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Dykes On Bikes.
Anyone attending Pride events is being asked to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious to police or to Pride organizers and volunteers.
The city’s Department of Emergency Management has a text messaging system in place. To get on the distribution list, text “AlertSF” to 888777. Once signed up, users will be notified via text message of any big emergencies. Subscribers can also customize the service to include specific neighborhoods or areas in the city they frequent.MORE NEWS: Armed Bike Thieves Targeting Cyclists in the East Bay Hills