Security precautions will be increased for Patchogue's LGBT Pride Month event after flyers degrading the gay and lesbian community were anonymously distributed to downtown businesses, police said.
The flyers were mailed to the businesses in order to prevent an Alive After Five event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans awareness, Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive d+irector David Kennedy and Mayor Paul Pontieri said.
Suffolk County Police Inspector William Silva said security will be increased for the June 27 event on Main Street. He declined to say how many officers will be on duty and how much extra staff would be added.
“We don’t give out the numbers, but we’ve adjusted accordingly,” Silva said. “We want to quell any concerns.”
Silva said they immediately contacted the chamber, which is sponsoring the outdoor summer festival, after business owners reported the flyers to the police two weeks ago.
Business owners who received the flyers declined to comment.
Anonymous letters were also sent to several businesses and the chamber earlier this year, raising concerns in the community where popular bars, restaurants, shops and events draw visitors from across Long Island and New York City.
“Many in the community are supportive of the [Alive After Five Pride month] event,” Kennedy said. “The flyers don’t gel with how the majority of the community feels.”
Finding the flyers "highlights why we should do events like this," he said.
Despite its offensive nature, the flyers were not illegal and are protected by the First Amendment of the U. S. constitution, Silva said.
“There was no threat and it’s freedom of speech,” he said.
Alive After Five is Patchogue’s largest festival of the year, drawing thousands of people from around the region and featuring live music, entertainment and arts and crafts every other Thursday until August.
The July 11 Alive After Five event honors the armed services, July 25 focuses on awareness of women in the arts and Aug. 8 celebrates Patchogue and the cultural arts.
Kennedy said he expects the events to be held without any complications, but the chamber has its own security detail for the event and plans on increasing staff.
“We feel very prepared with anything that may happen,” Kennedy said.
Pontieri said the anti-LGBT flyers are disappointing but he expects the June 27 event to be held without any issues.
“It will be safe,” he said.