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Police increase security for 20th anniversary of St. Pete Pride event

St. Pete Pride Parade
Posted at 6:40 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 18:41:43-04

SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla.  — St. Pete police are ramping up security for the 20th St. Pete Pride Celebration this weekend, which is expected to be their biggest year ever.

More than 100,000 people are expected to be in downtown St. Pete for Pride this weekend, and the police department has all hands on deck to make sure everyone is safe.

For 20 years, thousands of people have traveled to St. Pete to celebrate pride.

"Pride is a celebration of individuality and love and respect for exactly who we are in this world. The first Pride was a riot, led by Black and brown trans women, which I think is often forgotten," said Tiffany Freisberg, St. Pete Pride president.

But in light of recent threats across the country, including the arrest of 30 men planning to riot at a Pride celebration in Idaho two weeks ago, St. Pete police are ramping up security with more than 500 officers on duty.

"During this 3-day event, we will have police officers in uniform as well as plain clothes working as detail. We will have additional cameras that will be monitoring along the parade route," said Anthony Holloway, St. Pete police chief.

St. Pete PD discuss Pride Parade security | Press Conference

The emergency operations center at St. Pete police headquarters will activate on Friday. Holloway said local law enforcement, the FBI and the fire department will work together to monitor 40 to 75 surveillance cameras. Holloway said most importantly if you see something, say something.

"If you see something suspicious, please don't be that person who says, 'Ah, I should’ve called that in,'" said Holloway.

The parade starts at Vinoy Park and will go down Bayshore Drive. Freisberg said she is grateful for having so much support from area law enforcement.

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"There has been some legislation that is concerning to our community, so to see this level of support is really heartening. Our number one priority is to make sure we create a safe event," said Freisberg.

The chief said there are no threats as of now and they are working this weekend to keep it that way. He said there are also freedom of speech areas along the parade route, and there is no parking at the pier after 2 p.m. on Saturday.

"We just want to make sure this is a safe event for everyone to come out to," said Holloway.