President Joe Biden recently said ‘hate and violence’ aimed at the LGBT+ community was on the rise
The sound of gunfire drove Pride month celebrants into panicked stampedes in at least two US cities over the weekend.
Pride parade attendees in both New York City and San Francisco were fearful that mass shootings were occurring during their respective parades. Loud noises sent the crowd sprinting for cover and nearly caused stampedes.
“People totally freaked out,” one witness, who asked not to be named, told the New York Daily News about a parade in Washington Square Park in New York City on Sunday. “We heard two loud bangs and everyone just started running at the same time. People were just running every direction.”
Police determined after an investigation that no shots were fired at or near the event.
“After an investigation, it was determined that the sound was fireworks set off at the location,” the NYPD said in a statement.
“Who would light fireworks at a place they know thousands of queer people are gathered?” the unnamed witness asked. “Obviously everyone thought it was a gun.”
Police said that no one was injured in the chaos following the firework explosion.
A day before the events in New York, in San Francisco, police responded to reports of a shooting, but were unable to “locate any victims or witnesses,” according to a report in the Washington Post.
“At this time it does not appear that there was any merit to a shooting in the area, and officers remain on scene to ensure safety and security of Pride events,” Officer Kathryn Winters told the paper.
Insider reporter Kylie Robison, who was in attendance at the event, tweeted that she saw people “screaming, running, saying there was shots fired” at the time.
She said she began running with the crowd, noting that “its just wild to live in a country where we’re all prepared to run or die like that.”
Last month, Joe Biden warned that “hate and violence” aimed at the LGBT+ community was on the rise. Earlier this month, Idaho police thwarted a Patriot Front plot to disrupt a Pride event, and police in Florida and Toronto worked together to arrest a man who threatened to shoot up a Pride event in West Palm Beach.
The LGBT+ community was the target of one of the worst mass shootings in US history in 2016 when a gunman attacked Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people.