FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 22, 2019
Statement on Security at Northwest Arkansas Pride 2019
Fayetteville, AR — Northwest Arkansas Equality, the producer of Northwest Arkansas Pride, is working extensively this year with the City of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Arkansas Police Department on security at the June 15, 2019 Parade, Festival, and all other official NWA Pride events. Since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in June 2016, the FPD has voluntarily increased security throughout Fayetteville’s Entertainment District on NWA Pride weekend. C4 Nightclub & Lounge routinely asks police officers to be on-site during larger events at their establishment during the month of June. Metal detectors and other increased security measures will be in place this year at venues including the Fayetteville Town Center and George's Majestic Lounge.
Small groups have protested at NWA Pride nearly every year. Protesters have the right to peacefully assemble on city property. However, no one has the right to harass. Comments, gestures or obscene language directed to an individual or group can be considered harassment. In 2018, members of a religious group harassed Festival vendors before the Parade. They were asked to stop by NWA Pride administrators and volunteers. Some complied, but others didn't. The Fayetteville Police Department was called and was on-site in minutes. Police ticketed members of the group who refused to leave the area.
The NWA Pride Committee and the NWA Equality Board of Directors also understand the concerns within the community about the presence of uniformed police officers at Pride, especially among people of color and trans and gender non-conforming individuals. We are working to balance these concerns. The presence of uniformed officers is required by law for all events of this scale within the City of Fayetteville, and for escorting parades, just as it is in other cities. However, no uniformed police officers have ever been invited to march in the NWA Pride Parade. Off-duty officers are welcome to march in plain clothes as part of other groups.
The Fayetteville Police Department has worked hard over the past several years to better understand and train officers on LGBTQ and other diversity and inclusion issues. If you have an issue with a protester or the police, we need to know about it so we can help educate and resolve issues to build a better experience and community for everyone at Pride, and all year long.
We will march. We will celebrate. We will be safe. 🏳️🌈
Joseph M. Porter, President, Board of Directors
Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc.
179 N. Church Ave., Ste. 101, Fayetteville, AR 72701