An additional 200 uniformed and plainclothes officers will be assigned to this weekend’s Pride Fest and next weekend’s Pride Parade, and the FBI will work the events as well, law enforcement officials announced Thursday.
The additional law enforcement manpower comes atop parade organizers already bolstering the off-duty police officers and security professionals working the parade this year — to 160 from last year’s 90.
The increased CPD and FBI presence is a response to the Orlando nightclub massacre and the arrest of an Indiana man with assault rifles and explosives in his car who told police he was on his way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade, officials said at a news conference in Boystown.
“There is no intelligence or threats against the LGBTQ community or any event in the city of Chicago right now. But you will see an increased uniformed presence at these events in the 19th district and the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the CTA hubs,” Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said. “This is mostly being done in an abundance of caution.”
The FBI will be providing unspecified “assets” to help secure the event, and encourages the public to report any suspicious persons or activity to 911, said John Brown, acting special agent in charge of the Chicago FBI office.
“We are not aware of any known threat to the annual Pride Parade, or to northern Illinois at this time,” said Brown. “We want folks to call. See something, say something. Call the FBI. Call your local law enforcement. But pure and simple, we need folks out there as eyes and ears to call, so that if there are any threats, we know about it.”
In the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, gunman Omar Mateen opened fire at Orlando’s gay nightclub Pulse, killing 49 patrons.
Chicago hosts its annual Pride Fest this Saturday and Sunday, which annually draws up to 115,000 people to Lake View. Up to 1 million people are expected to line four miles of North Side streets on the following Sunday, June 26, for the 47th annual parade that runs through Uptown and Lake View.
The Office of Emergency Management & Communications will operate a joint command center for law enforcement and city agencies during the events, said OEMC managing deputy director of operations Rich Guidice.
“We’re looking forward to a fun, safe event this weekend and next weekend. Just be aware of your surroundings, and rest assured that there’s enough security staff on site to make sure that everybody’s safe,” Guidice said.
“There’s a lot of focus that will be going on the Pride Fest and the Pride Parade. There’s also still 240 miles of city to maintain, so we’re going to be keeping an eye on the rest of the city as well from our emergency operations center,” he said.
The superintendent said CPD will also have plenty of officers on bicycles and in plain clothes, and K-9 units, strategically placed throughout the events, and there will be increased crowd-control barriers along the parade route.
Attending the announcement were Pride Fest and Parade organizers, who said they too have made changes like reducing the number of parade entries from 215 to 160, and modifying the route to alleviate congestion.
The parade will commemorate victims of the massacre with a moment of silence, and pole-mounted photos of all 49 victims will be carried at the head of the parade, said Richard Pfeiffer, who has run it since 1974.
“It’s not just the whole LGBT community, but everybody here and around the world that was just devastated at this ridiculous loss of life, by this person who obviously was homophobic,” Pfeiffer said.
“But I think it’s just energized the LGBT community to come out and say, ‘We are going to commemorate all those people, but after we commemorate them, we’re going to celebrate who we are. We’re not going to go back in the closet.”