Pride Toronto introduces gun controls

Don’t be surprised if you get checked for weapons with a security wand at the upcoming Pride Toronto festivities.

In a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, Sherwin Modeste, the festival’s executive director, said “due to the increased security risks we’ve seen in recent weeks,” organizers made the decision to “prioritize ( their) guests”. Security” and introduce this additional security measure.

This security check applies to those entering the festival’s “designated spaces” and may “result in a slower check-in process,” it said.

“We hope that people understand that our priority is the safety of everyone and we are only introducing this to ensure that our stage areas are safe for all people.”

Speaking further with CP24 at an AIDS Candlelight Vigil on Tuesday night, Modeste said the move is a precautionary measure and there have been no direct threats against Pride Toronto or any of the events.

“So at Pride Toronto, public safety, the safety of everyone who attends the festival, is very important to us,” Modeste said. “And we have seen an increase in online threats towards the LGBTQ community. But we have also heard directly from many members of our community who are being attacked, either verbally or physically.

“So (we are) proceeding with caution and making sure that people who come to Pride Toronto feel safe. We want people to feel safe, hence the reason for the added security and working with security companies that understand the Queer community. For us it is very important”.

While Toronto police have not informed Pride Toronto of any known threats, Modeste said, organizers are trying to harden the festival against any potential “copycat” attacks.

Just two weeks ago, an Ontario teenager was arrested and charged with alleged threats against an LGBTQ event in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Modeste said organizers are aware of such incidents and are trying to plan accordingly.

“One hundred percent for us is to err on the side of caution to make sure this is going to be a safe event,” he said.

This year will be the first time since 2019 that Pride Toronto will host an in-person Pride festival. Physical Pride events have been canceled in the city in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pride Month events kicked off in the city on June 1 and will culminate with a Festival weekend from June 24-26.

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