As rainbow flags take over the streets of Manhattan to show the unity of the Big Apple this weekend, the city’s finest plans to keep all New Yorkers — and out of towners alike — celebrate safely.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton came together with NYC Pride, organizers of the NYC Pride March, on Thursday to go over the details of Sunday’s celebration to ensure safety measures are in place.
According to officials, the march — which kicks off at noon on 36th Street and Fifth Avenue — is expected to surpass last year’s record number of 1.6 million spectators.
De Blasio added that in light of the shooting in Orlando, where 49 people lost their lives after a crazed gunman entered the gay Pulse nightclub armed with an assault rifle and handgun, New York City has an obligation this weekend to show the nation what inclusion and love looks like.
“From time to time this year we have talked about New York values, so I will restate, New York values include inclusion, a respect of our diversity, a respect for everyone’s right to speak up and express themselves and that is what will be epitomized on Sunday,” de Blasio said.
The mayor continued saying that although there are no specific threats directed against the march that does not stop the city from staying vigilant.
On Sunday — along with other Pride events that are starting Friday — the NYPD, which debuted a police vehicle decked out in rainbow decal and lights in honor of the LGBT community and the victims of the Orlando shooting, will increase the size of police detail to help people feel comfortable.
In anticipation of a historic large number of attendees to the parade, the NYPD will have an increased number of uniformed officers along the route of the march and will also have officers in civilian clothes mixed in with the crowds.
There will also be a large increase in active terrorism efforts with heavy-weapon teams present, counter terrorism personnel with radiation detection devices, explosive detection canines and in the air patrols in helicopters and rooftops. Vessels will also be assigned to patrol the city’s waterways.
As officials urge those attending the parade to use mass transit, the NYPD will also be increasing the presence of transit officers over the weekend.
Parade goers are also asked to keep their eyes and ears open and report anything suspicious they might encounter to any of the officers present.
“You will be safe, you will be protected,” de Blasio said. “It is important for everyone to know that attending this parade on Sunday is an act of pride by and for and with the LGBT community and it’s also an act of pride in this city.”
David Studinski, co-chair of NYC Pride, said on Thursday that the hearts of the LGBT are still heavy from the Orlando shooting and over the weekend — along with every other day after — they will keep the victims with them.
He said that this weekend’s Pride events, which conclude with the march, are a celebration but also moments of awareness. He urged members of the LGBT community to come out and show the strength of their pride and love.
“If you are anxious or nervous, maybe you are a little uncertain, that’s okay, that’s normal,” Studinski said. “The important thing is we remember those 49 people we lost last weekend and so many other lives we lost, and we don’t hide… A lot of us have started out in closets and that’s the last thing we should do.”
Studinski added that the nonprofit plans to recognize and memorialize the victims of the Orlando shooting during the march, and also at other Pride events throughout the weekend, while also remember other LGBT victims who lost their lives.
For more details on all Pride events this weekend, including the march, visit www.nycpride.org.