Utah’s biggest LGBTQ+ spaces focus on security in wake of Colorado shooting

Nov 23, 2022, 9:54 AM | Updated: May 21, 2023, 4:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Pride Center is upping security measures in the wake of the Club Q mass shooting and hate attack on the LGBTQ+ community, in an effort to make sure people feel safe when they visit the center.

Providing a “safe space” also means physical safety for many areas of the center.

Co-CEO Jonathan Foulk said they’ve had to take the heartbreaking step of locking their front doors. They had already put a two-step entry system in place where staff have to check people into a secure lobby before letting them into the Utah Pride Center.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere, and two panic buttons can set off blue alarms throughout the building to let people know of an intruder.

But after last weekend’s deadly mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Foulk explained they decided to elevate their security measures even more.

“Especially what’s happened in the last weekend, people are hesitant to go out right now. People are hesitant to even come here, to be honest, because they don’t know if it’s safe,” Foulk said. “And we want to assure the community that we are safe here.”

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On Monday, just over 24 hours after most received news of the shooting, Foulk said their team at the Utah Pride Center called together a huge meeting about safety.

They’ve already come up with immediate measures they’ll work on implementing.

First, Foulk described how they’ll spend somewhere around $10,000 on blinds around the Pride Center building, which was originally built as a bank with no window coverings. Someone came by on Tuesday to do measurements.

“With it getting dark so early now, we have people in the center all the time, and a lot of school kids and a lot of adult programming happens after 3 o’clock. So all the windows in the front of the building and upstairs are all exposed,” Foulk said.

He said they will also start staffing the front desk with two people at all times, and all staff and volunteers will undergo active shooter training.

Staff members have reached out to Salt Lake City police and the FBI to make sure they’re doing everything they can, Foulk said.

“We need to make sure that all of our team members and volunteers that volunteer their time here are also trained. So we’re just adding an extra layer of security and just making sure that the community feels safe coming in here.”

Community mourning 5 killed, 19 injured in deadly Colorado Springs rampage

Milk+, one of Salt Lake City’s largest LGBTQ+ nightclubs, is also taking an extra look at security. Creator and owner Brent White said a few people have reached out to them to ask about safety.

“Everyone’s on edge,” White said. “This is so scary for the entire community.”

White explained how they’ve implemented strict security from the club’s beginning, which includes employing security officers from an outside company, a rigorous front door screening process involving bag searches and metal detectors, and a staff member closely monitoring all surveillance cameras at all times inside and outside the whole property.

There is only one entrance and exit door. All other doors have alarms that will go off if opened. The patio has an 8-foot tall wall around it.

Even so, White indicated that they want to make sure they’re doing everything they possibly can and aren’t missing any safety measures.

“We are setting up a meeting with the Salt Lake City Police Department to be able to sit down and go over all of our safety procedures, and make that there’s sure no holes or gaps or anything,” White said.

He said that meeting is set for next week.

With this being the Thanksgiving holiday week, places like Milk+ are often where people in the LGBTQ+ community gather with their chosen families. Most of the LGBTQ+ bars in Salt Lake City, as well as the Utah Pride Center, are hosting Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving events for that reason.

White and Foulk each expressed that they want people to feel safe when they go out and know the security is the biggest priority. 

“This is a time of family and friends and community,” White said. “And in light of all the tragedy, we also want people to be able to celebrate together and be together and feel safe.”

“We have to be out there, we have to connect with one another, we have to show up at these businesses, we have to show up here at the Pride Center because the more that we step back, we’re letting terrorists win and we cannot do that,” Foulk said. “We are loud, we’re proud, and we have to support one another.”

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Utah’s biggest LGBTQ+ spaces focus on security in wake of Colorado shooting