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SFPD pumps up presence to protect Pride events

SFPD pumps up presence to protect Pride events
SFPD pumps up presence to protect Pride events 02:23

SAN FRANCISCO - Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack San Francisco this weekend to celebrate Pride and attend the Pride parade, and the SFPD is taking extra steps to ensure that those events are safe.

The police department said given recent incidents targeting the LGBTQ community locally and across the country, there will be heavy police presence. While they said there are no credible threats targeting this weekend's Pride events, they will be deploying more uniformed and plain clothes officers to keep the celebration safe.

"I counted 10 policemen out here on the corner this morning," said Jim Mason, who was standing at the corner of Market Street and Castro Street.

Mason and his partner Terry Colbert are excited the Pride parade is coming back after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. The long-time couple said the Pride events are more than a celebration, they're part of a fight for equality and acceptance. They still remember when they first came out to their church 45 years ago.

"We were basically kicked out of a seminary, a Methodist church for being a gay couple. That was 1977," said Colbert.

"The extremists have always been there. They're possibly a little more blatant now," said Mason.

They pointed out a group of right-wing extremists arrested recently in Idaho trying to disrupt a Pride event. On the same day, a handful of people identified by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department as Proud Boys tried to stop a drag queen book reading event in San Lorenzo. And bomb threats were recently made against gay State Senator Scott Wiener and the organization LYRIC, which serves LGBTQ youth.

That was why San Francisco police are teaming up with federal agents and the pride security team this weekend to monitor for any problems.

"We are on high alert. We are watching, we are monitoring things. We are making sure we're aware of our surroundings. But we feel secure," said Suzanne Ford, the interim executive director of SF Pride.

Aside from tens of thousands of people coming from across the country to celebrate pride, the police department also expected protests related to the supreme court ruling on abortion rights.

"We cancelled days off for this weekend. We will be heavily deployed as a result of the cancellation of days off. And we make adjustments as we need to," said SFPD Chief Bill Scott.

Pride organizers and police said the message is don't be fearful, have fun, but do stay alert. And if you see something, say something. 

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