Security measures have been enhanced at Boston Pride events today following the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 and injured dozens more.
Pride organizers have been working with Boston Police since news of the tragic attack brokeearly Sunday morning, Pride President Sylvain Bruni said in an interview.
The group, which on Saturday led its parade through the streets of Boston, has a number of celebrations planned in the city on Sunday: a block partieson St. James Avenuein Back Bay, and on Perkins Street in Jamaica Plain, as well as a boat cruise, a party at a restaurant and the Boston Pride Weekend Official Closing Party at The Wild Rover onChatham Street.
“When we woke up and read the news, wewere horrified,” Bruni said. “The fact that a gay venue was targeted, whether that was specifically the motive or not, goes to our hearts because we are celebrating Pride right now.”
Additional Pride volunteers have been called in to work at the day’s events, Bruni said, and every staff member and bartender was trained Sunday morningon security protocol.
“Everybody is on the same page regarding security,” Bruni said.
Extra BPD officers were also called in to police event venues, Bruni said, and staff will continue to check bags at the event areas’ entrances.
“We are in constant contact with the police department and the mayor’s office to make sure everything is in place to ensure the safety and security of every patron who comes to the parties,” Bruni said.
Revelers at Pride’s Back Bay Block Party said they were celebrating in solidarity with the victims in Florida.
“When things like this happen, the whole country is united,” said Tarah Soltis, 26, of Boston’s North End.
Red Raphaelson, 27, of Plymouth, New Hampshire, said she planned to donate blood, and that she was planning on traveling to Florida for the state’s Pride celebrations in October.
“I think it’s very important in our community to get together and show them [violence] is not going to stop us,” she said.
Others were more on edge than they would usually be.
“At first I was a little concerned,” said Andy Garabedian, 28, of Lowell. “But you can’t let that stop what you want to do. You can’t let it run your life.”
After all, said 44-year-old David Goulart of Quincy, the community has stood together through challenging times in its history.
“I don’t think the gay community has ever been the community to sit back and live in fear,” he said. “We’re just not that kind of group.”
Below, see video of an interview with Jalil Zougagh, a DJ from Florida visiting Boston.
— Spencer Buell (@MetroSpencer) June 12, 2016
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) June 12, 2016
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said earlier Sunday that his department would beproviding additional support to LGBT clubs in the city.
“Clearly this was a hate crime geared at the gay population, and we’re going to make sure they are safe,” Evans told reporters.
Pride held a moment of silence at 4 p.m. at the outdoorparty in theBack Bay.
Bruni urged the LGBT community not to be deterred by the shooting in Orlando.
“We are not afraid,” he said. “We should be having a celebration of pride and who we are. The city has our back. The city has stepped up greatly.”
Mayor Marty Walsh called for a vigil for the victims of the shooting on Monday at 6 p.m. outside Boston City Hall.
State police said they had no information about related threats to the Boston area.
At 4 p.m., Pride organizers held moments of silence simultaneously at a series of events marking a weekend of celebration for the LGBT community. At the Back Bay Block Party, a centerpiece event of the weekend, Pride leaders were joined on stage by representatives from their Pride counterparts in Ft. Lauderdale, Flordia.
During the observance, the booming dance music on St. James Avenue stopped and members of a hushed crowd embraced one another and quietly waved rainbow flags.
The man who opened fire in the Florida nightclub, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, reportedly made refernce to the Boston Marathon bombings in a 911 call to authorities, according to the Massachusetts State Police. He cited the Tsarnaev brothers, perpetrators of the 2013 attack, police said in a statement on the MSP website, adding the department are now working with federal investigators.
Among those killed in Orlando was Springfield, Massachusetts native Stanley Manolo Almodovar III, according to NECN.