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As a Wilton Manors LBGT resident homeowner, questions linger after my experience at the Stonewall Pride Parade and Festival on June 19.

We now know this was not an attack on our community but a tragic accident at the festivities. My words fall short of expressing my sorrow for the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus members impacted, especially for the loss of life, the injured and the driver.

Considering the incident occurred just minutes before 7 p.m., many of us were left with no information of the incident while waiting along the parade route. Likewise, NBC6 staff parade participants reported (two minutes and 30 seconds into the video) they waited in their cars at the front of the parade from 6:30 p.m. An hour or more passed before they better understood the reason for the delay, the gravity of the incident and a few minutes later that the parade was canceled. As mentioned during the broadcast, many attendees in the crowd were out celebrating as though nothing had happened and many rumors were circulating.

Now the questions:

What if this was an actual attack on our community?

On June 19, the 11 p.m. NBC6 News reported the Fort Lauderdale Police Department was not able to announce if this incident was an intentional attack or an accident and they were was considering all possibilities during, at that time, an active investigation. As mentioned on the broadcast, many questions were left unanswered after 11 p.m. Attendees waiting along the barrier for the parade to start, as well as those attending the festival, could have been comprised by possible accomplices.

Why weren’t the attendees immediately notified of the incident and its possible gravity since an investigation was ongoing to determine if the incident was intentional or accidental?

Attendees could have evaluated incident risk and make decisions based on early information. Attendees solely there for the parade may have left. The incident occurred just before 7 p.m. NBC6 News Staff mentioned on the broadcast they were advised of the parade’s cancellation apparently after 7:30 p.m. Using social media to notify attendees at 8:14 and 8:15 p.m. on Facebook and Twitter seems misplaced and late.

Why were attendees left in place and not informed much sooner the parade was canceled?

Many attendees lined the barriers along the parade route before 7 p.m. waiting for the parade to start; some with friends/partners, some with children, some with pets, some older like my partner, a friend, and myself, standing in the extremely humid heat.  For us, we learned a truck hit two people, killing one, just at 8 p.m. from another attendee. Still unaware of what happened and that the parade was canceled, we eventually left around 8:15 p.m.

What if you needed a police officer to report a concern to?

In fact, our friend was concerned about a suspicious box along the parade route and wanted to report it. He couldn’t find an official around the 7 p.m. timeframe possibly because of their response to the incident.

What if timely announcements were made, regardless of the decision to cancel the parade was still under consideration?

Attendees patiently waited with no word of the parade’s pause or possible cancellation and no word on how this might jeopardize the festival. Many waiting along the parade route were nowhere near a stage where I understand announcements were made. I don’t know the time of the announcements but they certainly weren’t timely for most of the attendees.

It is my view from a possible emergency management point of view, this incident was handled poorly, especially when a public official offers a media statement early in the incident that it was a terrorist attack on the LBGT community.

Announcements should have been bull-horned down the parade route to the attendees with timely information of the incident, its nature and that a decision to cancel the Parade and/or Festival was under consideration and followed by a final announcement that the Parade and/or Festival was/were canceled.

The list below includes government organizations present; it does not include media. If there were Press Releases, I could not locate them.

Based on my research, the government organization notification times to the public on the evening of June 19 were:

Fort Lauderdale City Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Fort Lauderdale City Facebook Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Fort Lauderdale Police Department Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Wilton Manors City Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Wilton Manors City Facebook site – notified incident and parade cancellation at 8:54 p.m.

Wilton Manors Police Department site (part of Wilton Manors) – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Wilton Manors Police Department Facebook site – notified incident and parade cancellation at 8:14 p.m.

Wilton Manors 411 Twitter Feed – notified incident and parade cancellation at 8:15 p.m.

Wilton Manors Entertainment Group Stonewall Pride Parade Site & Street Festival Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation

Wilton Manors Entertainment Group Facebook Site – no apparent mention but mentioned incident and parade cancellation at 7:23 p.m. in a reply to a posted comment

Broward Sheriff’s Office PIO Site – no apparent mention of incident or parade cancellation.

Rob Nadeau


Eyewitnesses Recount Horror at Pride