MILWAUKEE -- There were metal detectors at the admission gates during the final day of Milwaukee PrideFest on Sunday, June 12th. This, after at least 50 people were killed and another 53 people were hurt during a mass shooting at the popular Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning.
The metal detectors were on hand at Maier Festival Park -- and officials decided to get them out and use them on Sunday as an added precaution.
Purses and bags were searched, and there was an increased police presence.
Officials emphasized Sunday that the Summerfest grounds were safe.
"A lot of what we do here is not just venue security but also fear reduction. We want the community which is taking part in the gay pride event to feel safe and secure and know their police department is looking out for them," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
Below is the complete statement from PrideFest officials, issued Sunday morning:
Milwaukee Pride, Inc. wishes to express its absolute sympathy after last night's heartbreaking hate crimes in Orlando. Our love and support goes to the victims, survivors, their friends and families, and hope that all can find peace in the wake of this horrifying event."We are furious about this senseless violence," said Wes Shaver, president elect of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. "This act of terror sought to silence our community during a month of national LGBTQ celebration. We will not and cannot allow ourselves to be silenced."As the only LGBTQ festival in the world with permanent grounds, PrideFest Milwaukee has enjoyed heightened security since its arrival at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park in 1996. Three levels of security, including Milwaukee Police Department, Summerfest and PrideFest staff, patrol the grounds from open to close each year.
"Unlike some pride festivals, our grounds are open only to ticketed guests who pass through our front gates," said Eric Heinritz, executive director of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. "All personal items are subject to search before entry, and we do not allow carry-ins. While some may find these rules inconvenient, our first and foremost priority must be the safety of our guests."While there is no threat to PrideFest Milwaukee, the PrideFest production team responded immediately to the Orlando incident. Since 7:30 a.m., this all-volunteer team has been meeting with local, state and federal agencies to provide the highest level of security possible.
- Today, the festival will introduce full metal detection at the admission gates and increase security staffing across all areas, for the added safety and peace of mind of all visitors.
- In addition, the festival plans a tribute event at 4:00 p.m. at the Miller Lite Mainstage. Following a short presentation, PrideFest will honor a moment of silence for Orlando victims throughout the entire festival grounds.
- Today's performers are encouraged to honor the tragedy during all scheduled performances.
"Today is a day for LGBTQ community solidarity," said Michail Takach, communications director of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. "While thoughts and prayers are welcome, action is required. Today is a day to come out, to be seen, and to be heard, in honor of those whose day was stolen from them. Today is a day to remember where we started and why we started."
"Come together at the Milwaukee Pride Parade in Walker's Point. Come together at PrideFest at Milwaukee's lakefront. Come together with our Proud Partners throughout Wisconsin."
"Wherever you are, today is a day to celebrate your right to live proud."
"I think they do a good job with security here. I'm fine," Terry Wayson said.
"It actually makes me feel a lot safer with extra security. Hearing about the tragedy that happened in Florida, really heart-wrenching and sad, and I'm glad to have that extra security," Trevor Halleran said.
"We're lucky to be on a secure property. For 20 years we've been on the property at the Summerfest grounds which allows us to have a single gate for all patrons to have to come in with a ticket and we have screening of patrons through three levels of security really -- MPD, Summerfest security and our volunteer security team," Eric Heinritz with PrideFest said.
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