Orlando Officials Launch 'Safe Places' Program for LGBT Residents
Six months after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Orlando officials have launched a network of safe places where LGBT residents being threatened or harassed can go for help. During a press conference Monday at The Center, an advocacy organization for central Florida's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning communities, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orlando Police Department Chief John Mina, and District 4 Commissioner Patti Sheehan announced the Safe Places Initiative. It is a voluntary program which allows businesses and other establishments to designate themselves as places that will report anti-LGBT incidents and allow victims to come inside and call police.
District 4 commissioner Patti Sheehan called the program critically important.
“There are those that will victimize us for who we are. There are those who will attack us for who we are. For my LGBTQ brothers and sisters right now, this is important to us because of what happened to us and to the Latino community,” she said.
Participating establishments are placing a rainbow-colored decal in their windows. In large letters, the stickers read ‘Report anti-LGBTQ crimes’; in small letters, the stickers let people know they can call 911 and wait for the police to come at that particular location.
Orlando police are calling the decals a "symbol of safety." They have printed thousands and are preparing to hand them out to establishments that volunteer to be in the program.
For Mayor Buddy Dyer, this program is just one of the ways the city is pulling together after the mass shooting on June 12th.
“This is never going to be over," he said. "Forty-nine families lost their loved ones and Orlando has now a new charge that we’re a city that has to be a shining light in terms of showing the rest of the world how to embrace diversity and equality.”
All city buildings have the decals.
Safe Places is a national program that kicked off last year in Seattle.