San Antonio officials outline safety before Pride celebrations amid national safety warnings

The third annual ‘Pride River Parades & Celebrations’ kicks off Pride Month in San Antonio with a focus on safety.

SAN ANTONIO — On May 10, the FBI and Homeland Security issued a Public Service Announcement to provide awareness to the public of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOS) or their supporters potential targeting of LGBTQIA+-related events and venues. 

The announcement went on to say: Foreign terrorist organizations or supporters may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month.

In San Antonio SAPD told KENS 5 they are not concerned for anyone’s safety at Pride events at this time. The first event kicks off Saturday on the Riverwalk.

SAPD has ensured they will have preventative safety measure and security at the event to make sure everyone is safe. Safety and security measures described by SAPD are as follows: Downtown Bike patrol, district officers and Park Police officers, and off-duty officers to work the parade.

Statement from SAPD to KENS 5 regarding additional security:

Our Fusion Center uses open-source data to monitor any such events or threats to public safety. At this time there is no concern, however, we are always prepared to respond and keep San Antonio safe.

What is the “Fusion Center?”

The Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC) was recognized by the State of Texas and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Level 2 Major Urban Area Fusion Center in November 2011. A Fusion Center is a collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate and respond to criminal and terrorist activity. The mission of the SWTFC is to serve as an all threat/all hazard center for information/intelligence sharing and public safety through a process of collaboration with other regional and national partners, which is balanced and guided by the need and responsibility to preserve the rights and privacy of the citizens we protect. The SWTFC is managed by the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) and operates under the guidance of an advisory board that includes representatives from public and private partners throughout the southwest Texas region. 

How the community feels about upcoming Pride events:

Emcee for the Pride River Parade Lyn-z Andrews said she feels safe in San Antonio.

“Thankfully San Antonio is a loving community,” Andrews said.

Andrews added that she’s emceed the event for the three years it’s been around and every year is exciting, fun and a time for everyone to come out and show who they are.

James Poindexter and Phillip Barcena with Pride San Antonio said their biggest events like “Bigger than” Texas Pride Festival on the 29th will have an extensive amount of safety measures in place.

“So we do check bags all the time…and limited size bags we’ll also have signage up that it’s a gun free zone…so no firearms are permitted,” Barcena said.

They also pressed for everyone to remember if they see something then they should say something.

Statement from FBI and DHS:

The FBI and DHS are issuing this Public Service Announcement to provide awareness to the public of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOS) or their supporters potential targeting of LGBTQIA+-related events and venues. Foreign terrorist organizations or supporters may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month.

FTO efforts to commit or inspire violence against holiday celebrations, including Pride celebrations or LGBTQIA+-related venues, are compounded by the current heightened threat environment in the United States and other western countries. FTOs and their supporters have previously promoted anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and targeted LGBTQIA+ related events or venues for attacks.

  • In February 2023, English language ISIS messaging featured an article focused on anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and rallied against the growth and promotion of the LGBTQIA+ community. The same issue called for followers to conduct attacks on unidentified soft targets, although the attacks and targets were not specific to LGBTQIA+ venues.
  • 12 June 2024 marks the eighth anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Orlando shooting, during which the attacker killed 49 and wounded 53 people. After the Pulse shooting, pro-ISIS messaging praised this attack as one of the high-profile attacks in Western countries, and FTO supporters celebrated it.
  • In June 2023, three alleged ISIS sympathizers were arrested for attempting to attack a Pride parade in Vienna, Austria, using knives and a vehicle as part of the attack, per open-source reporting.

Possible Indicators of Potential Threat Activity:

  • Violent threats made online, in person, or via mail.
  • Unusual or prolonged testing or probing of security measures at events or venues.
  • Photography of security related equipment, personnel, or access points consistent with pre-operational surveillance without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Unusual surveillance or interest in buildings, gatherings, or events.
  • Attempts to gain access to restricted areas, bypass security, or impersonate law enforcement officials.
  • Observation of or questions about facility security measures, including barriers, restricted areas, cameras, and intrusion detection systems without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Eliciting information from facility personnel regarding the nature of upcoming events, crowd sizes, busiest times of day, etc. without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Attempts to enter a restricted area, bypass security, or impersonate law enforcement officials.

Please visit the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) website for additional information, resources, and training for community partners.

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