DENVER (AP) – Organizers of Denver’s PrideFest, which holds a parade and rally that has attracted hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in past years, are going ahead with their festival next weekend amid heavy security following the shooting deaths of at least 50 people inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday.
Organizer Debra Pollock said parade and rally participants in Denver have always been security-conscious, but members of the GLBT Community Center of Colorado have also received training on how to deal with active-shooter situations. Another Colorado support group, One Colorado, is planning to get the active-shooter training in the near future.
“The purpose of this training is to make sure our team is ready in case a gunman comes to Colorado. This training is not just for our organization, but the training is for all small nonprofit organizations and how to be prepared,” One Colorado executive director Dave Montez said. He cited the Nov. 27 shootings at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic that left three people dead and nine people injured over the issue of abortion.
Pollock said organizers of the parade and rally will have metal detectors and fences set up at Civic Center Park for the rally, and there will also be security on the parade route and people will be searched as in past years. There have been no threats against the organization, Pollock said.
“We have been training for an active shooter. We decided to educate ourselves. This now seems to be common across the United States,” Pollock said. She declined to provide details of the training or company that provides the training because of security concerns.
Pollock said Coloradans have been generally intolerant of anti-gay and anti-transgender violence, noting it only took a jury two hours in 2009 to convict a Thornton man of first-degree murder and a hate crime in the savage beating death of a transgender woman. Prosecutors said Allen Andrade, 32, found out that 18-year-old Angie Zapata was biologically male and he beat her with a fire extinguisher because he disliked gays.
The defense argued that Andrade and Zapata agreed to meet for sex after Zapata deceptively described herself as a straight female, and that Andrade snapped when he discovered Zapata was a man.
Andrade was also convicted of a bias-motivated crime, Colorado’s version of a hate crime. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 60 years.
Prosecutors presented evidence that tied Andrade to the crime scene and played recorded jail conversations where he referred to Zapata as “it” and said it wasn’t as if he “killed a straight, law-abiding citizen.”
– By STEVEN K. PAULSON, AP Writer
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