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New security measures will be in place at this weekend’s Pink Saturday pride celebration in an effort to prevent another incident such as the fatal shooting that rocked last year’s event, a San Francisco police spokesman said.
Attendees of the unofficial Castro District street party will not be allowed to bring alcohol this year, police Officer Albie Esparza said.
Security officers will also be checking bags and using wands to search individuals for weapons after 19-year-old Stephen Powell was killed last year when an unidentified man opened fire into a crowd, Esparza said.
“We want to provide a safe environment,” he said. “You don’t come to Pride expecting to be caught in the crossfire. It’s a celebration–come enjoy it–but we don’t want any crime.”
Esparza said the Police Department will have a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption at Pink Saturday, which will be held on Castro Street between 19th and Market streets; 18th Street between Diamond and Noe streets; and Market Street between Diamond and Noe streets.
Officers will also be citing at their discretion any intoxicated or aggressive individuals, and patrols were increased starting today to cover the weekend revelers, Esparza said.
SF Pride official celebrations begin on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the city’s Civic Center Plaza with music, booths and large crowds and will continue with the parade on Sunday. This year’s theme is “In Pride We Trust.”
Tonight the “Trans March” will begin from San Francisco’s Dolores Park at 6:30 p.m. to United Nations Plaza near City Hall. The march intends to “inspire all trans and gender non-conforming people to realize a world where we are safe, loved, and empowered,” according to group organizers.
At 8 p.m. the 33rd annual pride concert kicks off at the Everett Auditorium at Church and 16th streets, pride concert spokeswoman Heidi Beeler said.
The concert features the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony, Golden Gate Men’s Chorus and other local groups. Commander Zoe Dunning, the first openly gay naval officer, will be honored at the concert.
The Pride Parade is then expected to attract 1 million people onto the streets of San Francisco on Sunday morning, starting in the Embarcadero and ending at Civic Center Plaza, but the celebration of the lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and bisexual community goes beyond the annual parade.
Another visible sign of pride weekend will be the pink triangle displayed on the hillside of Twin Peaks. The triangle has 200-foot-long sides and is made with 175 pink-painted tarps, said organizer and co-founder Patrick Carney.
This year marks the triangle’s 16th year and represents the pink triangle German Nazis forced homosexuals to wear during World War II, Carney explained.
After 120 volunteers install the triangle on Saturday from 6 to 10 a.m., city officials and SF Pride marshals will christen the homemade flag. Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Scott Weiner and other city officials are expected to attend the ceremony at the top of Twin Peaks.
Carney said the triangle can be seen from 20 miles away. On Saturday night spotlights will illuminate the triangle.
On Saturday afternoon the annual Dyke March will head from Dolores Park into the Castro District where the Pink Saturday party takes place, shutting down the heart of the famously “gay” neighborhood.
The pride activities will close streets, affecting Muni and other transit routes tonight through Sunday night, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. Golden Gate Bridge District spokeswoman Mary Currie said ferry service would be added from Larkspur into the city for the parade on Sunday.
Bus service through Golden Gate Transit will be disrupted today through Monday, she said.
Janna Brancolini/Sasha Lekach, Bay City News