An Open Letter to Our Community:
First of all, we would like to thank you so much for being a part of our Pride festivities here in our great city of Columbus. However, it is also with heavy hearts that we write to you in regards to the recent tragic events in Orlando. We keep our Orlando LGBTQ family at the forefront of our hearts and minds as we move into Columbus Pride weekend.
We also realize that due to the violence of this terrible act against the Orlando LGBTQ community, that many of you may have concerns or even fears about your safety while attending our Pride Parade and Festival. That is totally understandable. We are writing to you to reassure you about our security efforts to make sure that you, your family and friends, our community and all of us… are safe.
We have been in contact with the mayor’s office and Police Chief Jacobs since early Sunday afternoon as details of the tragedy in Orlando became clearer. We have had direct communication with our city officials at the highest level and we can assure you that all safety and pre-emptive precautions are being taken. Nothing is more important to us at Stonewall Columbus and our city officials than keeping YOU safe.
On Monday, Karla Rothan, our executive director, and Lori Gum, our Pride Festival coordinator, met with Police Chief Kim Jacobs and they accompanied Chief Jacobs at her press conference that outlined the increased security that has been added to the Parade and Festival. This is a portion of what the chief had to say….
“With Columbus being such an open and inviting city, we always expect tens of thousands of people here for the annual Pride Parade and associated activities. Security is something that we never take lightly, but this year we will increase our uniformed and undercover presence, not because we expect something to happen as much as to assure our citizens and visitors that we take their safety seriously. The American spirit includes gathering together in times of happiness and sadness, and unfortunately this week’s activities will involve both feelings.
“Since yesterday morning, our personnel have been gathering information, intelligence and talking to our federal partners. Also since yesterday, we have been in touch with Stonewall organizers including Executive Director Karla Rothan and Pride Coordinator Lori Gum, who are here with me. We have increased our visible presence already and will throughout the week. The coordination and communication has been great already, and we will continue to share information as we get it to allow people to continue to enjoy our activities in our great city of Columbus.”
In short, our city is doing everything it possibly can to protect you and make sure that our events are safe. We don’t want you to be afraid, and we want you to join us during Pride and help us put forth a great display of resilience to those that would do us harm. Our city stands behind you, our Police and Fire departments stand behind you, our community stands behind you, and we at Stonewall Columbus stand behind you. You are in very good hands. We very much look forward to seeing you!
Stonewall Columbus Executive Director
Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival Coordinator