In wake of the nightclub shooting, the FBI is getting involved in security for Chicago’s annual Pride events that kick off this week.
Chicago police, FBI and city officials gathered Thursday to discuss security preparations for Pride festivities across the city ahead of a two-day festival this weekend and the Pride Parade on June 26.
"As we do every year, the City has been planning for several months to ensure that these events are safe and enjoyable for residents, participants and attendees," Rich Guidice, Managing Deputy Director of Operations for the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) said in a statement. "In addition, since the tragedy in Orlando, OEMC and the Chicago Police Department have met several times and we have adjusted resources and increased security measures so that the focus can remain on what Pride Fest and the Pride Parade are all about - the celebration of our LGBT community."
In the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting, Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk had asked Chicago FBI officials to ensure security at the annual parade.
“Given the importance of the LGBT community to my constituency in Chicago, Illinois,” Kirk wrote. “I want to make sure that you and your team in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago field office offer the maximum security possible so that, in the wake of the Orland massacre, we can have the safest Pride Parade ever.”
Kirk sent a letter Wednesday to FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge David W. Paun asking that the bureau's Chicago field office have a plan in place to ensure the safety of the 750,000 expected to be in attendance for the June 26 parade.
FBI officials responded to Kirk's call Wednesday, claiming the bureau was working with the Chicago Police Department to ensure safety at the parade.
"The safety and security of the people of Northern Illinois is our top priority and we work hand-in-hand with our Federal, State and Local law enforcement partners to gather, share and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention," a statement from the FBI read. "In that light, we urge the public to report any and all suspicious activity to the FBI or are any of our partners.”
Organizers said they are determined to keep people safe, working with the FBI and Chicago police to establish security measures for the 47th annual event.
Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said "at this point there is no threat here in Chicago."
"This is one of the largest events of the year," he said. "We all know there is a lot of focus on the event following Orlando's event."
Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer said 160 off-duty officers and security personnel will work the parade – an increase from just 70 officers that patrolled the event last year.
Approximately 750,000 people are expected to line the streets on Chicago’s North Side for the 4-mile parade route that runs through Uptown and Lakeview.
“For more than 40 years, the Pride Parade has marked a vibrant, national celebration of the contributions by our LGBTQ community. This year’s parade will take on a special meaning, as we honor the Pulse community, family and friends of those who lost their lives in Orlando,” Chicago Commission on Human Relations Chairman Mona Noriega said in a statement. “This horrific act of violence offers the LGBTQ and Latino communities an opportunity to stand united in the face of hate, and Mayor Emanuel and I stand committed to the work we do every day in the city to ensure that all people are valued and respected – regardless of who they love."