Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pride Parade Gets A New Name, But Few Other Changes

Chicago’s Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade is changing its name for 2017, but no other significant changes are planned, according to permit applications that have been distributed to the Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

The re-named “LGBTQ Pride Parade” will step off from Montrose and Broadway at noon on Sunday, June 25, according to the records that were provided to CWB Chicago.

For the second year in a row, parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer’s permit request says the march will be capped at 150 units, that’s down from 250 units in 2011 and 200 in more recent parades.

Pfeiffer’s “Gay Parade Organization” last year cut the event's size under pressure from the city and residents who have grown concerned about unruly crowds, property damage, and widespread post-parade street crime that has plagued the neighborhood for years.

Sources: City of Chicago and Chiagopridecalendar.com
Concerns about safety led local aldermen to form a top secret "advisory committee" whose members are not publicly identified and whose work is not available for public review.

According to city records and the parade’s official website, the formerly-named Chicago Pride Parade has exceeded its permitted unit count every year since 2011—including last year. The city claimed to not have permits from earlier years.

Cops quell a street disturbance after the 2016 Pride Parade
Before last year, the only other time that parade organizers slashed the number of units was for the 2012 parade. That came on the heels of dangerous overcrowding along the parade route that sent spectators climbing over fences and barricades to avoid being crushed.

As in all previous parade applications, Pfeiffer continues to estimate that the parade will last 2 hours, 15 minutes. With few exceptions, that's the maximum time allowed under city ordinance.

In reality, the parade lasted nearly five hours in 2015 and about three hours in 2014 and 2013. Last year’s parade was noticeably shorter than other recent parades but still ran over its permitted time.

Take Out The Feds

Police arrested “only” 24 people in connection with the 2016 parade and its aftermath. That was down sharply from 52 arrests in 2015, and 46  arrests in both 2014 and 2013.

But police sources were slow to credit the shortened parade for last year’s improved performance.

Last year’s parade was held just two weeks after a terrorist killed 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

With Pulse fresh in people’s minds, the Chicago parade was protected by a sea of FBI, Illinois State Police, and Cook County Sheriff’s Officers that had never before been assigned to the event.

The Chicago Police Department added 200 more officers to its already-massive parade force, and the CPD deployed both of its helicopter units for the first time in the parade’s history. Only one copter had been used in the past.

Despite all of the reinforcements, victims of last year's parade violence included the 19th District's police commander and a man who was left with "part of his skull missing" after being battered while giving out free hugs.
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