Revelers should expect beefed-up security at the New Orleans Pride Festival this weekend in the wake of the massacre early Sunday at a popular gay nightclub in Florida.
A day after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando, organizers of the annual gay pride celebration sought to reassure participants and visitors they are taking precautions to ensure their safety in the French Quarter.
The three-day celebration includes an array of dance parties, live performances and a parade Saturday evening, which will include a moment of silence dedicated to the Orlando victims.
“Security for all New Orleans Pride events will be heightened, but we have not finalized the level or additional measures with the local authorities yet,” the New Orleans Pride board of directors said in an email Monday.
The organization added that it has been in “constant communication” since Sunday with the New Orleans Police Department and Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office.
“We are taking every step needed to ensure that New Orleans Pride’s 2016 festival goes off without incident,” the group said on its website. “As with any large-scale event, be aware of your surroundings, and if you notice anything suspicious, report it to the proper authorities immediately.”
Jeffrey Sallet, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Orleans field division, said there are “no specific threats” to any of the events scheduled for this weekend. The bureau urged residents and visitors to the city to report any unusual activity to law enforcement.
“We are very cautious and vigilant in ensuring we’re on top of any potential information that would lead to concerns,” Sallet said in a telephone interview, adding he will be meeting this week with Michael Harrison, the New Orleans police superintendent. “We’ve offered any and all support necessary for this weekend.”
The bureau already had been operating in a “vigilant posture” in light of a call issued by the so-called Islamic State to its supporters to carry out attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Sallet said.
The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, allegedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State before attacking the Pulse nightclub.
Tyler Gamble, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department, said police are working with local, state and federal law enforcement officials “to make any necessary security adjustments” for this weekend’s events.
“Security for the event is typically handled by off-duty NOPD officers through security details, as well as on-duty officers in the 8th District,” Gamble said.
Organizers continue to expect robust attendance despite — or perhaps because of — the mass shooting Sunday.
“The general consensus is that everybody feels it’s important to carry on and not let anything upset them,” said Jeff Plamquist, who works at Cafe Lafitte in Exile, a gay bar on Bourbon Street that was busy Monday. “That would be giving in.”
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.