FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fayetteville police are upping the security for upcoming pride month festivities. Saturday is the annual Northwest Arkansas Pride Festival, and some members of the pride community are worried about their safety.
This concern stems from recent mass shootings in Texas and Oklahoma. A Fayetteville man, among others, was arrested in Idaho this week for plotting to riot at a state pride event.
Sgt. Tony Murphy with the Fayetteville Police Department said there will be a higher police presence all through Saturday’s pride events and even after. For everyone who is attending Saturday’s activities, Murphy encouraged everyone to say something if they see something suspicious.
“I would stress for citizens that are down there enjoying the festivities to keep their eyes open, and help us police the area if they see something out of the ordinary,” said Murphy. “Contact law enforcement so we can stop something before it occurs.
According to Murphy, officers within the department are trained to respond to emergency situations at large gatherings. He’s confident if anything happens, they’ll be able to handle the threat.
So far, Murphy said no threats have been made.
NWA Equality is the is hosting pride this weekend. Megan Tullock works for the organization. She said she’s not scared of potential violent attacks— she’s angry. Tullock mentioned she wants to live in a society where there is no fear when you go to large gatherings.
“I understand what it feels like to feel nervous, and to show up feeling like, ‘I don’t know. Maybe I should sit this out’,” said Tullock. “I would tell them to sit with that fear. Like you can let yourself feel that. Then, I would encourage you to come anyway.
Charlie Ring is a member of the pride community in Northwest Arkansas. He said he’s concerned about the possibility of the event becoming unsafe, but is going to be at the event anyway. Ring wasn’t sure if others would make the same choice, but encouraged those who do go, to use the buddy system.
“You don’t want to just be there with one or two of you because there is a chance that you will be overpowered, and someone will hurt you,” said Ring.
Despite the concern for threats at large gatherings, Ring is looking forward to the weekend activities. He said he loves pride, and is excited to see a group of different people coming together for a common goal.
“This is their day, their day, and it’s touching to see,” said Ring.