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Tacoma police not increasing patrols for city’s gay bars

Despite the increased awareness of possible threats, Tacoma police will not be adding security or upping patrols around the city’s gay bars because there have been no specific threats.
Despite the increased awareness of possible threats, Tacoma police will not be adding security or upping patrols around the city’s gay bars because there have been no specific threats. Thinkstock

The Mix, a downtown Tacoma gay bar, always has security, especially on weekends when it’s busiest.

“Everybody comes here because they know they can feel safe here,” owner Brock Leach said Monday.

But in the wake of Sunday’s shooting spree at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, Mix employees will be more vigilant when checking patrons’ purses and backpacks, Leach said.

“We’ve always talked about something like this. This is just one of many over the past few years,” Leach said. “Obviously, it’s a little more heightened, but it’s something we’ve always planned for, making efforts to be more vigilant.”

Despite the increased awareness of possible threats, Tacoma police will not be adding security or upping patrols around the city’s gay bars because there have been no specific threats, police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

At least half a dozen officers did turn out Sunday at the candlelight vigil that drew more than 700 people to Tollefson Plaza to honor the victims in the Orlando shooting.

Additional security is being discussed for the Tacoma Pride Festival in July.

“We’re going to be monitoring all incoming intel for the upcoming Pride Parade,” Cool said. “We’re going to be a presence there for everybody’s safety.”

Leach said more police officers will be near The Mix, which draws up to 2,000 people at a time during the festival.

Local members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community continued to grieve Monday.

“This is an absolute tragedy for the LGBTQ community,” said Michelle Douglas, executive director of Rainbow Center. “It targeted our people.”

The advocacy group intends to add a remembrance of some kind to pride festival for the Orlando victims, but details have yet to be worked out.

In Olympia, Capital City Pride organizers have asked the entire community to attend the festival and honor the victims of the nightclub shooting.

“If we’re to be honest with ourselves, we know that the atrocity that occurred in Orlando could have happened in Olympia, Austin or San Francisco,” organizers said in a statement. “It could happen anywhere.

“We value debate, different perspectives and different experiences. But let this Pride festival be focused on love, respect and on all of the things we share as members of our global society. The celebration of community will go on.”

Not everyone will be welcome at the festival.

The Libertarian Party of Washington was denied booth space in 2015 because of its stance on the open carry of firearms, and the party has been denied booth space again at this year’s festival.

The state party is “unwavering in its support for the Second Amendment” and will boycott the Capital City Pride festival until everyone’s constitutional rights are supported, said James Holcomb, a party organizer from Thurston County.

In an email, Holcomb said the attack in Orlando illustrates the need for LGBTQ community members to embrace their right to carry a firearm and “be proactive in protecting our family and ourselves.”

“As a gay man, I have just recently got my first shooting experience under my belt,” he wrote, also advocating for nonlethal forms of self-defense.

“I encourage others in my community to get out there and learn how to use firearms safely and effectively. … We should not have to wait for the police to arrive to defend us.”

In Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray pledged to keep the city’s Pride Parade — the third-largest in the country — free of violence June 26.

The Police Department is “regrouping to develop more robust security plans around Pride events … extra measures will be taken in light of (Sunday’s) events,” the mayor said in a statement.

Staff writers Stacia Glenn and Andy Hobbs, and KIRO-TV contributed to this report.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker

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