Dayton Pride festivities includes police presence

The annual Dayton Pride Festival brought community members Friday evening, June 2, 2017,  to enjoy an evening of food and live entertainment on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. TODD JACKSON / STAFF

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The annual Dayton Pride Festival brought community members Friday evening, June 2, 2017, to enjoy an evening of food and live entertainment on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton. TODD JACKSON / STAFF

Courthouse Square this weekend will feature live entertainment, food and a parade during Dayton’s 41st annual Pride celebration.

Along with the festivities at Pride 2017 will be security to ensure attendees stay safe at the longstanding event, Dayton Police Department Maj. Wendy Stivers said.

“Every year we work closely with the (Greater Dayton) LGBT Center to staff the event with police officers and make sure we have officers there,” she said.

“There’s a number of concerns with this event every year, and sometimes protesters show up. It’s really important to be able to keep people safe while balancing their right to freedom of speech, the right to assemble and the right of the festival attendees to enjoy the event.”

>>RELATED: Ultimate guide to Dayton Gay Pride 2017

Almost one year ago, on June 12, 2016, was a mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, that was the deadliest to target the LGBT community in the United States and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001. The shooter killed 49 people and wounded 53 others before he was shot and killed by Orlando police.

Stivers said the Orlando attack opened opportunities for police to reflect on tactics, training and relationships with businesses downtown. It also led to an active-shooter training exercise in cooperation with Club Masque. Training included lights, music and fog so officers could be familiar with the nightclub’s environment in case Dayton experiences a similar act targeting the LGBT community.

However, Stivers said police have no reason to suspect any unusual problems at the pride celebration. She encourages attendees to be mindful of their surroundings and report anything suspicious.

“Dayton is an incredible, diverse community, a very welcoming community,” she said. “Downtown is a very safe place to come and enjoy activities like this.”

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