FBI, CPD to boost security for Pride events in Lakeview

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The FBI, Chicago Police Department and other city officials spoke Thursday about preparations for the upcoming Pride events in Lakeview. (WLS)

The FBI, Chicago Police Department and other city officials are boosting security for the upcoming Pride events in Lakeview.

With a million or so visitors expected, Chicago hosts one of the largest Pride parades in the country. It's grown every year since its inception nearly 50 years ago, but this year, security concerns in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shootings mean fewer parade entries, but possibly more spectators.

"We're not going to let a horrible tragedy like this set us back. We're going to commemorate who those people are, young people mainly, who lost their lives," said Richard Pfieffer, parade organizer.

Police said they are adding several hundred officers to the security effort. They are reducing the number of entry points to the parade route, adding barricades and are modifying the parade route. Organizers have also reduced the number of parade entries from 215 last year to 160 this year.

"We have different assets that's going to be deployed throughout that parade route to ensure the safety of everybody," CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

While CPD and the FBI stressed that there are no known threats to any Pride events, they encouraged the public to report any suspicious persons or activity by calling 911.

"We need folks out there, eyes and ears. So if there are any threats, we know about it," FBI Special Agent in Charge John Brown said.

Organizers plan to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting by displaying pictures and names.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) said attendees can honor them is to have a safe event and respect the neighborhood, businesses and law enforcement as they celebrate.

"Some people have said a moment of silence for the Orlando tragedy. I'm asking for a week, a day, of respect for each other as individuals - gay and straight," Tunney said.

The parade is more than a week away, but this weekend the neighborhood will host more than a 100,000 visitors for Pride Fest on Halsted Street north of Addison. Security will be tight for that as well, but organizers say it will not alter their plans.

"We must use our voices now more than ever to demonstrate that pride speaks louder than hate," said Christopher Barrett Politan, North Halsted Business Alliance.

Police said they will not prohibit visitors from bringing anything in particular into the parade area, but they will conduct searches to identify anything dangerous. They also said they will strictly enforce open container laws.

Related Topics:
chicago police departmentchicago crimesecurityparadeChicago - Lakeview
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