MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Visitors to this year’s Twin Cities Pride festivities will see a stepped up police presence.
It’s a response to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando two weeks ago.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: 13 Deaths, 1,611 Cases Reported; Hospitalizations Continue To Spike
Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to attend, making it the largest free pride event in the country.
In Loring Park, Pride is represented in a mix of rainbow hues yet, this year, one particular color can’t be ignored.
“I’ve already seen a huge increase in police presence from past years,” said Greg Symbal of Minneapolis.
According to the Minneapolis Police Department, an unprecedented number of uniformed officers are on duty at Pride events to offer added security and peace of mind.
“It does make me feel a lot more safe,” said Erika Burns of Minneapolis.
The uniformed officers are a change from years past when safety measures were far less visible. Officers from several different departments will be at every Pride event on foot, on bikes and on horses.
“I’m definitely feeling like it’s been beefed up and I have no concerns this year,” Symbal said.READ MORE: Man, 19, Identified As Victim In Fatal North Minneapolis Shooting
The LGBT community can’t help but feel shaken by the shooting at Pulse nightclub two weeks ago in Orlando.
“Gay bars are also kind of a spiritual place for us. A sanctuary where we can go and be comfortable with who we are and kiss our lovers and partners and husbands and wives. It hits kind of close,” said Tim Balfanz, GM at The Saloon.
Balfanz added to his security at The Saloon for his busiest weekend of the year.
“We’re increasing numbers a little bit. A lot of our security is behind the scenes that people don’t necessarily see,” Balfanz said.
An act of hate may have modified this year’s safety measures but the need for community remains unchanged.
Organizers are expecting near record crowds of more than 300,000 people.
“We’ll always be here regardless,” said Chip Bell of Minneapolis.
“We have to show up, be proud, and live our lives,” Symbal said.MORE NEWS: AG Merrick Garland Announces Probe Into Minneapolis Police Practices
Twin Cities pride events are scheduled through Sunday. The Pride Parade rolls down Hennepin Avenue Sunday morning at 10. For a full list of events, click here.