Skip to Content

Safety concerns addressed for upcoming Central Oregon Pride event


The nation is still reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“It just hurts,” said Rita Schenkelberg from Central Oregon Pride.

Central Oregon Pride organizers said Monday they’ve hired a private security company and have also requested officers from local law enforcement agencies.

Schenkelberg said she and other organizers heard from numerous concerned LGBTQ community members over safety during the Pride in Bend scheduled for Saturday, June 25 at Drake Park, after the shooting in Orlando.

The father of the Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, said his son saw two men kissing each other and got very angry, suggesting that’s why he went after a gay club.

“I want to be able to hold anyone’s hand and kiss anyone in public and feel safe doing that,” Schenkelberg said.

Portland police officials said they’re increasing security, especially around gay night clubs.

Central Oregon law enforcement agencies said there are currently no specific threats on the High Desert, and they’re not stepping up patrols, but officers said they have a heightened sense of awareness.

“We’re looking at what we need to do to become more vigilant and more prepared for the types of events,” said Captain Paul Garrison with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Garrison said the sheriff’s office is prepared for an event like that in Orlando.

“It doesn’t matter the geographical location,” Garrison said. “It could happen everywhere. The number of these incidents that you’ve seen over the last few years have illustrated that.”

The Bend Police Department and the sheriff’s office both have SWAT team units available in case of a mass shooting on the High Desert.

“They’re especially trained to handle high-risk situations,” said Lt. Clint Burleigh with Bend police.

June is Pride month and events across the country have kicked off.

“All we want to do is celebrate,” Schenkelberg said.

Central Oregon Pride organizers are gearing up for the event in two weeks, where they’re expecting around 5,000 people. Last year, there were 3,000 visitors.

“I think the added number is because being visible (as LGBT) now is something that’s a lot more protected,” Schenkelberg said. “Having an open and honest conversation about gay issues is something that we’re able to do.”

Now, many are worried about safety during the parade celebrating love.

“We come out to celebrate and enjoy and encourage everyone to come,” Schenkelberg said. “To have violence as a reaction, that’s very scary.”

For a full list of upcoming Pride events in Central Oregon click here.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content