Seattle Mayor Ed Murray vowed to do “everything we can in a free society” to protect members of the LGBT community following the murders of 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The shooting also came as authorities in Los Angeles said they arrested a heavily armed man who was on his way to a Pride parade in West Hollywood.
“As a community we will not be intimated. We will not stop gathering together,” said Murray, Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.
Murray reassured thousands gathered at a candlelight vigil Sunday night on Seattle’s Capitol Hill that the city would step up security efforts in light of the shooting in Florida – the deadliest in American history. The massacre, which federal authorities believe was motived, in part, by anti-gay sentiment, comes during a month when cities across the country are hosting Pride events.
In Seattle, thousands are expected to attend various PrideFest 2016 events taking place throughout the month, with more than 500,000 expected at the annual Pride parade on June 26.
“We have a police force that is trained in the best and most recent ways to handle these situations,” Murray said. “We are increasing police presence at LGBT establishments. We will have an increased presence at the parade given these circumstances.”
Egan Orion, director of PrideFest, said he hopes the shooting will make the LGBT community more resilient. He expects that this year’s turnout could be higher than ever before, despite security concerns.
“For many years, it’s been a celebratory event, particularly last year when the Supreme Court gave same sex marriage to all 50 states,” O’Brian said. “I have a feeling this may galvanize the community in a similar way in that we want to counter the hate that was represented in this massacre.”