Shoals PrideFest takes steps to ensure safety

The largest mass shooting in American history occurred in the early hours of June 12 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Because of this, organizers of Shoals PrideFest, an event celebrating LGBT Pride Month, have taken safety precautions for upcoming events.

“We have been working with Chief Ron Tyler and the Florence Police Department for three weeks now in making sure that all of our events are as safe as can be,” said President of Shoals PrideFest Ben Newbern. “Obviously, with the event in Orlando, we are looking over our plans and making any changes as needed.”

Newbern said extra security is one of the changes the organization made.

To honor those victims who lost their lives, Shoals PrideFest held a candlelight vigil Monday evening at Wilson Park which replaced one of the planned events, Newbern said.

“(The vigil) went really well,” he said. “We had over 300 people attend and show their support for the LGBT community.”

Newbern said the shooting in Orlando changed how they will plan future events in the upcoming years.

“Certainly this week, everyone, no matter if they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, should have a sense of heightened alert,” he said. “What happened in Orlando could have happened in a big city or a small city. We want people to know this, and we will be thinking of this when planning for the future.”

To learn more about Shoals PrideFest events, visit their Facebook or their website

Editor’s note: Life Editor Monday Sanderson is president of Student Alliance for Equality at the University of North Alabama.