Small open carry group organizing for pride festival - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Small open carry group organizing for pride festival

FOX19 NOW/Robert Guaderrama FOX19 NOW/Robert Guaderrama
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Security becomes a concern anytime the City of Cincinnati hosts a major event.

The Cincinnati Pride festivities are underway and the Cincinnati Police department is preparing for the weeks events in the same way they prepared for the Major League Baseball All-Star game in 2015.

“We’re working not only with the Police Department but the City Administration,” said Cincinnati Pride Co-President Shawn Baker. “We’re working with Hamilton County Sheriff’s department, Cincinnati Fire and that’s not the only law enforcement agents we’re working with but Cincinnati Police are work with others.”

It may not only be police carrying a gun on their hip at Pride events and that has sparked some controversy.

Lieutenant Steve Saunders spoke with us over the phone and tells us the Police Department will have a highly visible presence at not only the parade but all Pride events.

Jeffry Smith is organizing a small group for a legal open-carry demonstration at the Cincinnati Pride Festival.

“I knew there would be strong reactions one way and the other about the matter,” said Smith.

Smith has organized a handful of Open Carry walks but he says this will be different.

“It is groups of one or two or three people just walking around and interacting with whoever wants to interact with them,” said Smith. The organizer says their opinions will not be forced upon pride-goers but they are there to open dialog. The groups facebook page has seen both positive and negative feedback. Smith wants constructive dialog on the topic and has gone as far as blocking comments that he feels aren’t constructive for the conversation and may use harsh language.

We asked Smith what his response would be if Cincinnati Pride requested that he stop his event. Smith tells us he hoped to have open communications with Pride organizers.

“I’m very disappointed that they chose to not respond and they have had a chance since the event has been out there to respond,” said Smith. “So it all depends on the content of the conversation.”

“Pride has no official statement on this because our community is bigger than a few people,” said Baker. “[It’s] not only our community but our allies, our friends, family, co-workers.”

UPDATE: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the open-carry demonstration happened at the festival, not the parade.

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