Largest-ever police presence for Twin Cities Pride weekend

Crews in downtown Minneapolis spent Wednesday transforming Loring Park for Twin Cities Pride weekend.
Several hundred thousand people expected to fill the park and downtown Minneapolis to celebrate the GLBT community, and police are prepared for anything with squads on patrol a full day before the festivities begin.

“We have not received any specific threats, but clearly in the aftermath of what happened in Orlando, we want to make sure people feel safe and welcomed in Loring Park this weekend,” Minneapolis Parks Police Chief Jason Ohotto said.

After the massacre at the gay nightclub, Pulse, where 49 were targeted and killed and dozens more injured, many in the community are on-edge.

“I think it’s natural to be nervous,” Twin Cities Pride board chairman Scott Feldman said.
Feldman said he has heard from some who are worried about the current political climate and recent tragedy, he is urging people not to be afraid.

“This is a moment for everybody to come out and show they’re not going to be scared, not going to hide or run away, and come out and celebrate who they are,” he said.

Minneapolis police wouldn’t go into details, but the department confirmed it would have its largest show of force at any Twin Cities Pride celebration, including bike, mounted and K9 patrols.

“The uniformed presence will be visible, and people will be aware of that, but security is more than just a uniformed officer on the ground. We have additional measures in place as well,” Ohotto said.

Beefed-up security at the Saloon

Tim Balfanz, general manager of the Saloon, one of Minneapolis’ most popular gay bars, said he’s expecting huge crowds.

“We want to find that right balance. We don’t want people to feel like they are going through airport security to come celebrate Pride. We want some visibility with security and police officers to know they are taking it seriously,” he said.

The Saloon is beefing up security with both uniformed and undercover personnel including Minneapolis police officers.

Balfanz is urging his customers to be a second line of defense by speaking up if something or someone looks out of place during the festival.
“We’ll be checking all bags and asking for no backpacks, no duffel bags this weekend, and we will be paying attention to cars parked on the perimeter,” Balfanz said.

Download the app for emergency alerts

You can download the Twin Cities Pride 2016 smartphone app for updates, schedules, booth locations and emergency alerts.

Download: Twin Cities Pride app