Charlotte Pride 'disappointed' about possible extra police at festival, parade

Charlotte City orders tighter security at Pride event

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Officials with Charlotte Pride say they are disappointed that there could be additional police and heightened security at this year's event after the city manager designated the festival and parade an "extraordinary event."

Tuesday, Interim City Manager Ron Kimble declared the 2016 Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade an Extraordinary Event. The event will be held in Uptown Charlotte from Saturday, Aug. 20 to Sunday, Aug. 21.

City officials define an Extraordinary Event as "a large-scale event or an event of national or international significance which might attract a significant number of people to a certain geographic area of the city."

The designation allows the city to modify its permitting process for activities such as parades and specifies certain items that are prohibited from being brought into certain boundaries of the event.

Charlotte Pride officials say they learned in mid-July that this year's festival could be given the designation and said "we were disappointed."

"The festival and parade have successfully operated without this designation since the city created the extraordinary event ordinance in 2012," Charlotte Pride officials said. "In that time, nearly every other major event in Uptown has received this designation."

Recent events designated as Extraordinary Events have been the Fourth of July Skyshow, CIAA basketball tournament, NFC Championship game, the MLK Jr. Holiday Parade and the Panthers' post-season football games.

"Such a designation could heighten police security and presence at the festival," Pride officials said. "As an organization, we are keenly aware of the implications that increased policing may have on our LGBTQ community, especially for trans communities and people of color."

Pride officials said they will continue to work with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to ensure "that all attendees feel safe and welcomed."

"I think that we have heard legitimate concerns from transgender members of our community and people within the LGBT community who are people of color," said Pride spokesperson Matt Comer in an interview Tuesday evening.

Officials say they began speaking with representatives of the local Movement for Black Lives several weeks ago to "hear their concerns" and discussed those concerns with CMPD and other city officials.

"We are still having those conversations today and will continue to have those conversations in order to ensure the safety and respect of all attendees at this year's events," Charlotte Pride officials said. "We are awaiting an opportunity to meet with CMPD in order to more fully address these concerns and receive clarity on what the extraordinary event declaration means for our event."

"We are committed to all movements that seek to fully liberate our communities and ensure their full safety, inclusion and respect," Pride officials continued. "These values have also led Charlotte Pride to support programs and projects led by and for LGBTQ people of color through our diverse programming and collaborative funding."

WBTV's expert on personal security, Karl de la Guerra, said that these days no one should be worried about increased security at a major event.

"The global condition has not been what it is today in years past. That in and of itself warrants additional security," explained de la Guerra.

The CMPD released the following statement about the festival being deemed an extraordinary event.

The goal of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is to provide a safe environment for members of our LGBTQ community. We have requested an extraordinary event declaration for the upcoming Charlotte Pride Festival.  This request is consistent with other similar sized public outdoor events including Speed Street, the CIAA Tournament, Fourth of July Sky Show and New Year's Eve celebration.  The CMPD will continue to work hard to ensure members of our LGBTQ community have a safe environment in which to celebrate.

Comer said that Charlotte Pride has no control over whether or not the festival is deemed an extraordinary event. He said that city officials are the ones who control whether or not the gathering is granted the designation.

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