Vigils held, security increased in Boystown

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Vigils were held in Boystown, Kankakee and Beverly as people gathered to remember the Orlando victims. (WLS)

Chicago is among the cities around the nation and the world holding vigils almost around the clock. It was also flooded with extra police presence.

The Chicago Police Department announced that it is increasing security in the 19th Police District, which includes Lakeview, Lincoln Park and Boystown, in the wake of the massacre at a gay club in Orlando in which 50 people were killed Sunday.

"Individuals can also expect to see increased police visibility today at special events throughout the city and along the lakefront," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "Officers will also pay special attention to CTA transportation hubs and be conducting increased traffic and safety enforcement downtown and on heavily traveled areas."

In Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, a suspect was taken into custody with assault weapons. The suspect told authorities he was there for the Los Angeles Pride festival.

"Most of the gay clubs, including ours have at least double the security of other clubs because we know we are the objects of hatred," said Art Johnson, co-owner of Sidetrack, one of Boystown's largest nightclubs.

Johnson said he is grateful for a stepped up police presence in the neighborhood.

Chicago police said there is no specific intelligence indicating a threat to the Chicago LGBTQ community. Chicago's Gay Pride Parade takes place in Lakeview in two weeks.

A vigil in Boystown was held Sunday evening to remember the victims - 49 people were killed and 53 injured.

Flowers, dozens of candles, note cards and gay pride flags mark this corner of Halsted and Roscoe. Dozens came out to pay their respects to the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Other vigils were held across the Chicagoland area Monday night. People in Kankakee and Beverly also gathered to remember the Orlando victims.

"City officials, our pastors, rabbis, our community leaders will pay a moment of silence for the lives we've lost," said Tico Valle, CEO Center on Halsted.

Valle said the Center on Halsted has seen a dramatic increase in phone calls to its crisis line since the mass shooting.

"Tremendous increase in calls," Valle said. "Fear, suicidal. Not knowing what to do. Panic. This is impacting all of us."

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The Council of Islamic Organizations of Grater Chicago said is had received reports of two threats since the Orlando attack.

Assi Siddique, like so many Chicagoans, said now is the time for people to come together denouncing violence.

"In my opinion, this act has nothing to do with religion, it's a criminal act, this person could be mentally unstable," said Assi Siddique.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago said it had received reports of two threats since the Orlando attack. Email threats to Islamic centers in west suburban Wheaton and southwest suburban Naperville were forwarded to the FBI.

Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, CIOGC board chairman, extended the council's deep condolences to the local LGBT community and said blood drives have been organized at several local mosques to help victims in Orlando.

At a press conference Monday, Kaiseruddin emphasized that the person who carried out the terror attack in Florida was mentally ill and should not represent the community as a whole.

"Muslims are not hateful of the LGBT community. Muslims are not hateful toward any community," Kaiseruddin said.

Most at the vigil had no relation to the victims, but they grieved for the senseless loss of life.

Related Topics:
newsu.s. & worldorlando mass shootingChicago - Lakeview
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