A week after South Florida LGBT and straight allies came together to remember the 49 victims of the Pulse Orlando massacre, law enforcement and community leaders have taken steps to ensure a tragedy of that magnitude never takes place in gay centric cities like Wilton Manors or Miami.
The Stonewall Pride and Parade Festival, which took place in Wilton Manors over the weekend, had a heavy police presence with many officials patrolling the grounds and taking part in the festivities.
Increased vigilance at events like Stonewall and Miami Beach Gay Pride is what Officer Christopher Bess of the City of Miami Police Department says is essential and a priority for departments nationwide in a post-Pulse society. Metal detectors and police officers were abundant at two separate remembrance events in Miami for the Pulse Nightclub casualties.
"Our ultimate goal was to make sure everyone felt safe at these events honoring the 49 victims," said Miami Police Spokesman Bess, whose officers conducted pre-event bomb sweeps at both the Adrienne Arsht Center and the AmericanAirlines Arena. Hundreds of supporters were in attendance at the gatherings Sunday, June 11 and Monday, June 12.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said his officers have undergone intensive active shooter training and even learned the layouts of every single nightclub in his city in the immediate aftermath of the Orlando shootings.
"More visible law enforcement is the key. If you have a huge police presence, people who are up to no good are more likely to walk away and abandon whatever plot they are cooking," Regalado said. "We also need to do more to ban illegal weapons in this country. It's not going to happen overnight, but we need to raise our voices and let them be heard. We shouldn't be victims of fear or abandon our daily lives out of fear. That's what the terrorists want."
Pridelines, a nonprofit organization serving South Florida's LGBT community since 1982, co-sponsored the Pulse Day of Remembrance at the AmericanAirlines Arena with the City of Miami Police Department and the Miami Heat. The program included all types of performances from dance to poetry to singing, as well as interfaith prayer, a candlelight vigil and the naming of the victims with each of their pictures rotating on digital LED screens. Though it was a somber event, Pridelines CEO Victor Diaz Herman said the occasion was an opportunity for the community to celebrate the lives of the "lost 49 souls" and "honor them with action."
"It's our hope that we encouraged and inspired people to take action so those lives were not lost in vain," Diaz said.
Diego Roman Martinez, a Miami resident who attended the Arsht Center remembrance event, said the solidarity he felt with fellow LGBT and straight allies moved him and made him proud to be a part of the day.
"This is all about love and pride," Martinez said. "Pride is never something you feel alone. That's why there are seven colors of the rainbow, because you never feel anything alone. Not a single thing."