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SF Pride weighs security aft­er Orlando shootings

San Francisco police met with organizers of the upcoming city Pride celebrations today to discuss security in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration Committee, said the organization had contacted police yesterday after learning of the shooting, which left 49 people dead and even more wounded.

While full details of security arrangements might not be released to the public, Singer said that there was likely to be an increased police presence at the event, which is due to take place the weekend of June 25th and 26th.

Singer said Pride organizers have received many phone calls of solidarity and expected that rather than people being scared away by the violence in Orlando, they might turn up in larger numbers.

Singer said:

“The LGBT community does not scare easily. … They fought for many years for equal civil rights and they will not be scared away by the terrorist in Orlando.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener in a statement said he planned to bring together LGBT venue owners in the Castro District and South of Market neighborhoods and police later this week to discuss plans for Pride celebrations:

“No act of violence — even one as evil as what Orlando experienced on Sunday — will stop us from coming together to celebrate the LGBT community at Pride this year. More than ever, we need to show the strength and love of our community to the world. … I have heard concerns from our nightlife community, who care deeply about providing welcoming places for people to celebrate and who want to make sure we are prepared to keep everyone safe.”

Tim Eicher, co-owner of Castro-area bars Beaux, Q Bar, Midnight Sun and Mix, said club owners are working with police and city officials to review their security procedures in light of the Orlando shooting and plan to have enhanced security measures in place for Pride:

“It is important not only that we remain alert and vigilant to these threats, but also that we continue to celebrate our Pride, support our community, and enjoy our rich and vibrant nightlife.”

The shooting comes as the Pride committee faces lawsuits challenging its security arrangements after a series of shootings and violent attacks at the annual Pride celebration in the Civic Center in previous years.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court on a motion for an injunction that would force the committee to add security measures including bag screenings and metal detectors, according to attorney Ryan Lapine, who filed suit last month on behalf of three shooting victims injured in 2013 and 2015.

Lapine said that the attorneys working on the cases and one of the plaintiffs are members of the LGBT community who want the event to go ahead, but with better security. He argued that other Pride celebrations around the country already employ such measures:

“We’re asking the court to enjoin the committee against holding the celebration without taking some very minimal security steps that would keep guns out and stop assaults before they start. … The committee is fighting to not have to take those steps, which is shocking.”

The Pride Committee has argued in legal filings that adding security measures would:

“… fundamentally change the nature of the event as an open and public celebration of the LGBT community and LGBT rights, and it would violate the core values of San Francisco Pride.”

In addition, the committee argues that it would have to drop its sponsorship of the event if the injunction is granted:

“… as the changes demanded by Plaintiff are both practically and financially impossible to implement, let alone in nine days.”

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