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Violence Sparks Concern Among Columbus Pride Organizers

COLUMBUS (Carol Luper/Ken Hines) -- Recent violent acts are causing concerns for organizers and police as they finalize security plans for the city's upcoming Gay Pride Festival and Parade.

Three gay men were beaten in separate incidents over a recent four day period in Columbus, and an 11-year-old boy was shot on June 15 at the city's Juneteenth Celebration at Franklin Park.

LGBT community organizers are working closely with Columbus police officers to prevent violence from marring the Pride celebration, which kicks off on June 21.

Commander Rhonda Grizzell said an incident action plan will be in place during the festivities, and extra officers on foot and horseback will be available to assist with any crowd control issues.

"We're going to do everything we can," Grizzell said. "We ask for the public to be aware."

Union Cafe owner Sam Schlisler is among the community leaders utilizing social media and word of mouth to ensure that attendees are aware of security concerns as the festival draws near.

"We're all working together, making sure we're getting the awareness out for those coming to our city," he said.

Pride Festival organizer Stonewall of Columbus will arrange for security officers and volunteers, and will communicate with police to help maintain the safety of those attending the weekend's festivities.
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