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Denver Police assessing legitimacy of alleged stalker's threat as part of PrideFest security plans

Governor: Coloradans deserve to celebrate safely
Posted at 2:28 AM, Jun 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-15 04:33:32-04

DENVER -- Tens of thousands of people will converge on Cheesman and Civic Center Parks this weekend to celebrate PrideFest.

Denver Police say they have a plan in place to keep participants safe.

Many are mindful of the gun scare that happened last week in Washington DC.

Several people were injured as the panicked crowd ran for safety, after hearing what was initially thought to be two gunshots during the DC Pride Parade.

Police found no evidence that shots were actually fired, but they did recover a weapon and made one arrest.

"We're certainly keeping an eye on instances that have occurred in other cities as part of our planning for this," said Denver Police Department spokesman Doug Schepman. "We do want people, if they see something suspicious, something that's concerning for them, to report it to police, so we can check it out."

Schepman told Denver7 there were no significant safety issues last year and that there were no arrests.

Threatening Message

This year, police are looking into an alleged claim of stalking and a related threatening message being shared on social media.

"To my knowledge, we're not aware of any threats regarding the festival or the parade," he said. "We can certainly take those messages and look into them further and see what the appropriate next steps are."

Denver7 was also tipped off about a possible threat to Governor Jared Polis.

The Governor's Press Secretary, Conor Cahill, sent this statement in reply to a request for comment.

"Colorado is a state and community that celebrates diversity and love. Coloradans deserve to celebrate safely. The safety of Coloradans is a top concern and these issues are taken very seriously. Our office does not comment on ongoing investigations or threats made toward the Governor."

Denver's First Pride Parade

Denver's first Pride Parade was held in 1976, seven years after the Stonewall riots in New York.

Rex Fuller, the Vice President of Communications and Corporate Giving, at The Center on Colfax, said back in the 60s and 70s, gay bars and other gay spaces, across the country, were routinely raided by police.

"On June 28, 1969 there was another typical raid at the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village," he said. "Rather than go along with the program, which many people had done before, the patrons of the bar that night rebelled and actually started three nights of rioting, which is now considered the beginning of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement."

Denver Pride Parade 1981 - Image Courtesy History Colorado

Fuller said when Pride first started in Denver, there was more of an adversarial relationship between police and the LGBTQ community.

He said that has changed 180 degrees.

"About three years ago, when the Pulse Nightclub shooting happened (in Orlando, Florida,) that partnership was really demonstrated because the whole team at Denver Public Safety came say to The Center, and to the LGBTQ community of Denver, 'we've got your back and you're going to be safe this weekend.'"

OutFront Magazine, the second oldest, independently owned LGBTQ publication in the U.S. shared some historic photos from Denver's early Pride celebrations.

OutFront - 1978

OutFront - 1981

Fuller said Denver PrideFest is now the largest LGBTQ celebration in the Rocky Mountain region and one of the largest in the country.

He said in addition to police officers and state troopers, there will be private security on hand working the festival, as well as a team of about 40 or 50 volunteers, who go through extensive training, to be the eyes and ears of the community, keeping watch for any potential threats.

"We feel this has been a really good partnership that has kept the community safe," Fuller said. "We want people to come down and enjoy the festivities."

PrideFest will feature live entertainment on 3 stages, 250 plus exhibitors, an array of food and beverage vendors, the Coors Light Denver Pride Parade and the Pride 5K Race.

Click here to learn more about Festival Rules.

Aurora Pride

Later this summer, there will be another Pride celebration in neighboring Aurora.

That event will have more of a water theme.

It is slated to take place at Aurora Reservoir, 5800 Powhaton Road, on Saturday, August 3, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Click here to learn more about Aurora Pride in August