OKC Pride stepping up security after Orlando mass shooting

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OKLAHOMA CITY – A celebration of the LGBTQ community will feature tighter security, in the wake of a shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Fla.

OKC Pride is collaborating with the FBI, as well as Oklahoma City Police and the Oklahoma County Sheriff to keep people safe as they attend the weekend event.

“You’re definitely going to see a bit more of a police presence,” said Capt. Paco Balderrama. “There’s [also] going to be officers there that you’re not going to see.”

There are no active threats to the pride event, but Balderrama said his department will put more officers in the crowd, consistent with what it does at other sizable events.

“It’s a lot easier for us to see if the tone’s getting kind of negative or if there’s a disturbance in the crowd when we can have actual officers within the crowd,” he said.

Firearms, weapons and illegal substances are forbidden, as are coolers, backpacks and outside food and drinks.

Personal handbags and purses are allowed but will be searched by security.

Tightening security was necessary, organizers said, after 49 people were killed in Orlando two weeks ago.

“It was frightening,” said Michael Clark, president of OKC Pride. “We had a lot of entertainers and vendors that the next day sent messages saying ‘I don’t know if I can participate. I’m kind of scared by this.'”

“We’ve worked really hard in the last week to set everyone’s mind at ease,” he said. “We have the security in place to make sure this is a good safe event.”

This year marks the 29th year of OKC Pride, which features music, food and vendors.

The most notable attraction is Sunday’s pride parade, which drew 40,000 people last year.

Police also are asking for help from the public to identify suspicious activity. You can call 405-231-2121 if you see something out of place.

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