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Increased security for St. Pete Pride Parade this weekend

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PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — If you see something, say something. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said that’s the motto during this year’s Pride event.

The 20th Annual Pride Parade kicks off Saturday at 2 p.m. “If you see something suspicious, please don’t be that person that says, ‘oh I should have called that in’ or, ‘oh I thought that—’ call it in,” Chief Holloway said. “You’re not really bothering us. We want to make sure that everyone is safe for the event.”

Chief Anthony Holloway addresses the media about increased police presence during this year’s pride festivities.

Tiffany Freisberg is the president of this year’s Pride event. She explained, “Pride is a celebration of individuality and love and respect for exactly who we are in this world. The first pride was a riot, led by black and brown trans women, which I think is often forgotten.”

Event organizers said the celebrations are more important than ever in light of recent events, given the surge in right-wing backlash against LGBTQ people. Authorities in Idaho arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front near a Pride event. The men were found packed into the back of a U-Haul with riot gear.

Chief Holloway said his agency received no word of any credible threats to this year’s Pride parade, but officers will be out in force just in case.

This year, vehicular traffic on and off the St. Pete Pier will be halted once the parade starts.

“Throughout the nation, we’ve seen where cars either tried to go on the parade and hurt people or accidentally went on a parade route.”

Samantha Smith offers free CPR courses from a small table at the entrance to the pier. She said she plans to be out there Saturday and is comforted knowing the police presence will be beefed up.

“I’m just more so worried about keeping the community safe,” Smith said. “It’s a scary world out there, there is a lot going on. I just pray and hope that everybody stays safe and be prepared.”

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