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LA Pride parade goes on amid heightened security

The LA Pride Parade went on as scheduled this morning despite beginning roughly 12 hours after the deadliest shooting in US history took place in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and left 50 people dead.

Before the start of the parade on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, city political leaders, law enforcement officials and festival organizers held an impromptu pre-parade press conference.

‘We all wanted to be here but we did not want to be here under these circumstances,’ said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (pictured, left).

‘We will not shrink away. We are here to march, to celebrate and to mourn. All of our hearts today are with Orlando. …Today we are proud of who we are. … This march goes on. We go on in the face of hate.’

Garcetti told the media about the arrest earlier in the morning of a ‘heavily-armed’ man in Santa Monica who is believed to have been planning an attack on the parade. He was later identified as James Howell.

‘We are safe and we are protected,’ said Garcetti.

West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister also spoke and said: ‘There are no words that capture the heartbreak we feel today. … In West Hollywood today, LA Pride will go on. Our hearts will be heavy but our resolve will be strong.’

The press conference ended with a moment of silence but the peaceful feeling did not last long.

The start of the parade was delayed by more than 20 minutes by a group of transgender protesters and others who participated in a ‘die in’ and laid their bodies across Santa Monica Boulevard.

They chanted such things as ‘Trans lives matter!’ and ‘Reclaim pride!’

They also shouted several times in unision: ‘What do we want for our brothers and sisters in Orlando?’ ‘Justice!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Now!’

The ‘die in’ took place in front of a phalanx of police on motorcycles.

‘It’s not the right day,’ one parade goer said to the group. ‘This is a day of mourning and celebration. It’s not a day of protest.’

Another spectator, 34-year-old Ben Garrett, told me: ‘I understand their plight but if all days. It didn’t make an impact and everyone was just annoyed by it.’

The protest ended when police in riot gear arrived and the parade was soon underway with its usual array of floats, scantily-clad dancers, wild costumes, community groups and politicians.

The parade seemed more sparsely attended than usual with huge gaps along the route until the section of Santa Monica Boulevard closer to the festival grounds.



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