Crowds, tight security expected for Cincinnati pride parade

CINCINNATI (AP) — Organizers expect big crowds and authorities plan tight security for Cincinnati’s parade and festival events celebrating Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

Organizers expect attendance to top last year’s estimated 90,000 people when the Cincinnati Pride parade steps off at about 11 a.m. Saturday. They say the slayings this month at an Orlando gay nightclub have raised interest in participation.

“This year we march, once again, to show that we will not give in to hate,” Cincinnati Pride co-presidents Shawn Baker and Brooklyn Steele-Tate said in a statement. “Our community always has been and always will be about love and acceptance. We will march with pride toward progress. We will never let hate or fear win.”

The celebration will occur amid the same kind of increased security put in place last weekend at gay pride events in more than a half dozen cities, including Chicago, Denver and New Orleans.

No problems were reported but the mood was somber in some places as participants recalled the 49 people killed and more than 50 wounded when Omar Mateen opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

City officials in Cincinnati have made public assurances that they are ready to keep the parade and festival safe. The festival at Sawyer Point along the Ohio River runs until 9 p.m.

Cincinnati Police Lt. Col. Paul Neudigate has pledged “a very robust” police presence that will include bike patrols, foot patrols, plainclothes officers and other “support elements.”

Some participants have expressed concern about gun rights activists’ plans for an “open carry outreach” on Saturday.

Organizer Jeffrey Smith has led pro-gun demonstrations at Ohio college campuses and elsewhere and says the mission is education about guns and self-defense.

There has been considerable social media reaction, with some people saying the gun outreach is ill-timed and insensitive.

Police say Smith’s past demonstrations have been non-confrontational and they don’t expect problems.

“We will be monitoring their actions,” Neudigate told city council members. “I would just ask the pride participants to have a great day and really pretty much just ignore them.”