A massive security effort similar to what the NYPD uses for events like New Year’s Eve — with thousands of cops, scores of blocker trucks and anti-drone technology — is planned for Sunday’s annual NYC Pride March in lower Manhattan, officials said.
At a briefing Tuesday at police headquarters, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the march, a tradition in the city since early 1970s, will take a 2.5-mile route through Manhattan streets. This year's march will go about three-quarters of a mile farther than usual, to allow it to wind past the Stonewall Inn, a historic site in the struggle over the years for LGBTQ rights.
A crowd of 2.5 million is expected to line the march route, O'Neill said, with up to four million more people in the five boroughs for various festivities related to WorldPride, a global event paying tribute to the international LGBTQ community.
“It is a very important day for New York City,” O’Neill said, adding that security measures were on par with those used on New Year’s Eve.
The march kicks off at noon Sunday at 26th Street and Fifth Avenue and continues south to 8th Street. The more than 80,000 expected marchers will be accompanied by 129 floats — up from 87 in 2018 — as they proceed west to 53 Christopher St., site of the Stonewall Inn, before turning north to the end point at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue, officials said.
Numerous streets will be closed along the route. Pedestrian crossings will be in place at six locations on Fifth Avenue, four on 6th Avenue and nine on Seventh Avenue, police said. NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan implored the public to use mass transit to get to and from the parade and other events since vehicular traffic will be greatly restricted.
”The entire route will be locked down with sand trucks and blocker vehicles,” said NYPD Chief James Waters, head of the department's counter terrorism unit. Waters said heavy weapons teams from the Critical Response Command and Strategic Response Groups are also being pressed into service, along with additional canine units.
In another security twist the department has used in recent years, the NYPD is employing “counter drone interdiction technology” to keep unauthorized drones away from the march.
“Sensors will identify for us and alert us to a drone flying in the air …,"
Waters indicated police don’t have the technology yet to take command of an errant drone or interfere with its power source, which could make it fall from the sky. He suggested police will be able to trace a drone back to its operator and order the device grounded.