COUNTY NEWS: Police chief comments on the recent killings in Orlando, Florida

The Orlando vigil in Kemptown (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

The Orlando vigil in Kemptown (Photograph: Eddie Mitchell)

In the wake of the mass killing in Orlando, Florida, USA, at the weekend Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, Sussex Police Commander for Brighton and Hove, Sussex Police LBGT Champion and Proud Ally, has issued the following statement:

“The tragic events in Orlando should concern all of us. A crime as heinous and cruel as the homophobic attack committed in the Pulse Nightclub this weekend is distressing to anyone with any compassion for the welfare and lives of the innocent people affected by this mass murder.

“Such a terrible event rightly gives us cause to stop, think and examine our own environment. I, like many of my colleagues in Sussex Police, in common with the people living in Brighton and Hove are proud and value greatly, the large, vibrant and diverse LGBT community, who play a huge part in making the city the wonderful place that it is to live, visit and enjoy. We will be flying the rainbow flag from John Street police station at half-mast.

“When reflecting on the terrible events in America, it is natural and healthy to consider what it means for us here. We know that whilst it is not impossible to get hold of a firearm in the UK, it is far more difficult to do so than in the US and far more difficult still, to get hold of the kind of deadly assault weapon that was used in the Pulse Nightclub attack.

“We have well developed and rehearsed counter terrorism plans but also work relentlessly on prevention, part of which involves continuously developing intelligence and acting on it.

“We know, too, that we will not tolerate hate crime, even if it seems relatively minor and we will continue to work closely with our partners in the City Council and LGBT Community Safety Forum, event organisers and licensed premises to try to prevent it, but to encourage reporting and tackle it when does occur.

“The threat level in the UK from international terrorism remains unchanged at ‘severe’ and we will be meeting with the organisers of Pride to consider what if any impact the events in Orlando might have on this event, because we are not complacent and our priority and that of our partners working on the event is and will remain the safety of the public.

“But should we be worried? No. We should not pretend that what happened is anything other than a truly terrible event and we are not immune here from the apparent circumstances that led to it being committed, but it is important to keep it in perspective and to show those filled with hate that we will do everything we can to stamp it out, that we will be vigilant but that we will also not be cowed and will continue to live our lives and enjoy our freedom and do so with pride.”

- Hundreds turned out at New Steine Gardens yesterday evening (Monday, June 13), to stand in solidarity with Orlando, Florida, after the attack on a gay nightclub.

The vigil was organised in Kemptown after a gathering at the Marlborough Pub and Theatre.

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