Neo-nazis will not change Windsor-Essex PrideFest plans

Windsor Pride Festival president David Lenz August 5, 2014. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle.)

The president of this year’s Windsor-Essex PrideFest is not worried about neo-nazis crashing the local event.

Last weekend, police in Detroit flanked a group of armed men wearing swastika armbands through the festivities at Metro City Pride. Many have criticized police for the way they handled it, but Detroit’s Police Chief James Craig defended his decision to dispatch officers saying it kept the peace.

The group of 15 men shouted slurs through a bullhorn. One man, who appeared to be urinating on an Israeli flag, was photographed while another was shown tearing up a gay pride flag.

Windsor-Essex festival President David Lenz, who led a contingent of local pride festival organizers to Detroit’s pride parade Sunday, admitted that such displays are intimidating.

“We had a contingent that went over to Motor City Pride on Sunday, and we had about 25 registrants to come with us,” said Lenz. “And at least eight of them backed out because of what they heard on the radio from the day before.”

However, he said organizers of the event in Windsor this August are confident their security plan is adequate.

“We do have duty officers at our festival, as well as security staff march at the perimeter. And we have fencing. We’re pretty prepared,” said Lenz. “We have a security operational plan that we work with the city and the police on.”

He told there are always people who protest pride events or send organizers hateful emails. Those emails are given to Windsor police to investigate.

Windsor-Essex PrideFest is from August 10 to August 12. The 27th annual parade is at 11 a.m. on August 11 on Ottawa Street.