Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Citing an “increase in security risks,” Pride Toronto 2022 announced Monday that weapons checks will be implemented for all individuals entering “designated spaces” at Pride events, including Festival Weekend which kicks off on Friday.

“Please be advised that this may result in a slower check-in process,” reads a recent statement on the organization’s website from Pride Toronto’s executive director Sherwin Modeste. “We are hoping individuals understand that our priority is everyone’s safety and we are only introducing this to ensure our stage areas are safe for all individuals.”

The move comes after Pride Toronto previously indicated they would be ramping up security in the wake of violent threats made against the 2SLGBTQ + community in the United States.

“Pride Toronto takes the safety of the entire community very seriously and will be adding additional security measures to this year’s Pride Toronto Festival as a result of the threats that were made to the 2SLGBTQ + Pride event in West Palm Beach, Florida,” Modeste told the Star in an emailed statement on June 15.

“These types of threats and safety concerns are unfortunately not new to the 2SLGBTQ + community and we will continue to do our part in stamping out the hate that is constantly being projected towards us,” he said in the statement.

Toronto police said they will “continuously” monitor security issues in Toronto and around the world.

“We make the appropriate adjustments to our plans in order to mitigate any potential risks to public safety,” said spokesperson Const. Tina-Louise Trépanier.

Pride month has seen a number of threats against the 2SLGBTQ + community so far. A 17-year-old from Ontario was charged in early June with allegedly making online threats toward an LGBTQ event in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The Miami Police Department said they had received a report on June 12 from someone on the video chat platform Omegle, a video chat platform, threatening to commit a mass shooting at Pride on Block 2022 in West Palm Beach, according to The Canadian Press. Police alleged the suspect claimed to live in Palm Beach County and was seen waving a gun in the video and making anti-LGBTQ comments, and claiming to live in Palm Beach County, where he said he was going to commit the mass shooting that day.

A few days later, police arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near an Idaho pride event on June 11. They were discovered in the back of a U-Haul truck with riot gear.

According to the Associated Press, the men were inside the truck dressed in khakis, navy blue shirts and beige hats with white balaclavas covering their faces. Coeur d’Alene police stopped the truck and arrested them, charging them all with conspiracy to riot. The men came from at least 11 states.

Based on evidence collected and documents, authorities found that the group was planning to riot in several areas of downtown, not just the park, the police chief said.

Those arrested came from at least 11 states, including Washington, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Illinois, Wyoming, Virginia, and Arkansas, White said.

The Star reached out to the North Idaho Pride Alliance. An automated response read, “As a small community non-profit, North Idaho Pride Alliance is taking a much-needed rest and attending only to immediate priorities after successfully organizing a momentous, joyful, and SAFE Pride in the Park community celebration under the most challenging of circumstances. ”

“We are deeply grateful to law enforcement agencies who were present and professionally responded throughout the day of Pride in the Park to keep our community safe,” the response said.

The alliance said it will not be responding to media requests at this time.

Pride Toronto’s annual festival weekend will take place June 24 to 26. Pride Toronto’s in-person events are returning after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

“We want our community to know that after 2 years of virtual festivals, we’re looking forward to seeing and celebrating with them,” Modeste said.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press


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