Organizers for Pride talk extra security following Orlando shootings

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What happened in Orlando leaves many people without words.

“It’s shocking,” Lori Gum said. “You think you’re prepared for tragedies like this.”

But in the wake of tragedy, Gum, who is the program coordinator at Stonewall Columbus and the festival coordinator for next weekend’s Pride festivities, has a message of reassurance.

“We’re bringing this out there and it’s our responsibility to take care of people and make sure they have a great time and make sure they’re safe, and we will,” she said.

More than 400,000 people are expected to be in town during Pride. Gum said Stonewall has paid more than $25,000 for staff and volunteer training, as well as extra security including police, fire, private security and officers event goers won’t even notice.

“There’s undercover police everywhere,” Gum said. “The public doesn’t see half of the security that’s going on.”

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All of that security is on top of the police officers and firefighters that will already be on duty. Also, Gum said dispatchers will be in the crowd and in constant communication with police to report any suspicious activity.

But regardless of extra security measures, the threat of violence is not stopping those who will attend.

Sile Singleton has been a Pride event goer since it started 35 years ago, and said the events in Orlando didn’t need to happen to put fear in the minds of those in the LGBT community.

“Even if this didn’t happen it would be in the back of our minds,” Singleton said. “I know it’s in the back of my mind.”

It’s that thought where Singleton draws both sadness and unparalleled strength.

“Did I get up crying today? Yeah, I shed a few tears,” Singleton said. “But, it still just makes me more determined.”

Singleton is grateful for extra security next weekend, but even more grateful for the will that promotes good.

“Live your life and have faith,” Singleton said. “That’s what you do. Get up and get out here.”

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