(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump on Monday opposed an attempt by his former fixer Michael Cohen to dismiss a lawsuit that accused Cohen of breaching his fiduciary duty to Trump "by spreading falsehoods" about his ex-boss.
"Despite Cohen's arguments to the contrary, the Complaint alleges that Cohen was conferred substantial benefits during his representation of the Plaintiff and utilized such benefits for purposes of obtaining selfish, financial profit at the expense of Plaintiff," Trump's attorney, Alejandro Britto, said in a statement.
Trump accused Cohen of "egregious breaches of fiduciary duty and contract" in connection with the publication of books and the production of a podcast that "are intended to be embarrassing or detrimental" to Trump.
Cohen argued that the lawsuit failed to properly state a claim and cast it as an attempt to silence "an important government witness" in the Manhattan district attorney's criminal prosecution of Trump.
Trump's legal team declined to directly address Cohen's claim.
"Cohen discusses the rulings in unrelated legal matters, makes references to various news articles designed to taint this Court's view of the Plaintiff and this case, unnecessarily injects invectives designed to exacerbate this already caustic matter," Britto said.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- The Portland Police Bureau in Oregon took a strong stance against “online rumors” Sunday, shutting down theories of a potential serial killer after the deaths of six women under the age of 40 within the last three months.
The agency publicly condemned the speculation, accusing social media posts and news articles of spreading “anxiety and fear in our community” without being “supported by the facts available at this point.”
“While any premature death is concerning…PPB has no reason to believe these six cases are connected,” the law enforcement agency wrote in a press release.
Officers with the PPB first found human remains in Multnomah County, Oregon, in February, later determining that the remains belonged to Kristin Smith, 22, who was reported missing on Dec. 22, according to the PPB.
Smith’s cause of death is unknown, and the investigation around her death is ongoing, according to a press release from the PPB.
More than a month later, police in nearby Clark County found the body of Joanna Speaks, 32, on an abandoned property. The Clark County Coroner ruled Speaks' death a homicide from "blunt head and neck injuries," according to ABC affiliate KATU.
On April 24, police located two additional bodies in Multnomah County. Deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office located the body of Charity Lynn Perry, 24, in a culvert, according to officials. Law enforcement is investigating the incident as a suspicious death.
The same day, officials found the body of an unidentified woman in a tent in the Lents neighborhood of Portland, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office. Officials are still trying to identify the women, who they estimate are between the age of 25 and 40, and possibly Native American or Native Alaskan.
“There is no indication that foul play was suspected by the [Medical Examiner] on scene, or the officers who were there to assist,” according to a release from the PPB.
A week later, officials with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office located the body of Bridget Leann (Ramsey) Webster. Law enforcement is asking the public for information about the suspicious death according to KATU.
The remains of Ashley Real, 22, were found by police on May 7 in a wooded area of Clackamas County, according to PPB. Real was last seen in late March and her death is being investigated as suspicious but is not conclusively a homicide, according to officials.
While the PPB has communicated with nearby agencies about some of the suspicious deaths, the organization pushed back against the idea that the interagency communication means the cases are connected.
“Like with all investigations of this nature we are routinely in contact with our law enforcement partners,” PPB wrote in their release. “That has happened here, but that should not suggest a connection has been made.”
Promising to communicate with the public if anything changes, PPB said the cases do not present an “articulable danger” at the moment.
(DENVER) -- Thousands of women participate in a sit-in at the Colorado state Capitol Monday, calling on Gov. Jared Polis to sign an executive order to ban guns and implement a system to buy them back.
The Here 4 the Kids movement, which advocates to end gun violence, is behind the event. Organizers said roughly 2,000 people were among the first to gather. They are also calling on white women specifically, to participate in the demonstration.
Tina Strawn, the movement’s cofounder, told ABC News that Black people have always been on the frontlines for social justice.
“So, it's time for white women to show up. It's time for white women to put their bodies, their privilege and their power on the line to save our kids,” she said. “And it is something that they are recognizing that they need to be doing. That's why they're showing up.”
On the importance of the sit-in, cofounder Saira Rao said “We have lost our imagination to dream bigger and envision a life where our kids are safe wherever they go. This is not a way to live. It is not a way to live. Bulletproof backpacks [are] not normal, and we've gotten used to this as if it's normal.”
“It's got to stop, and nothing has worked since … the 24 years since Columbine,” she said, referring to the 1999 high school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, which left 15 dead.
Organizers said the mood of the sit-in is solemn, and the names of people who have died from gun violence since the start of the Here 4 the Kids organization in April are read at the beginning of each hour.
Actress and director Lake Bell is one of the thousands of women participating in the sit-in.
She told ABC News “This is the thing to do -- which is to show up, to make the effort, to participate in the action of really advocating and demanding for change.”
Bell, who is a mother of two, said “I don't think there is a child in America that goes to school that doesn't live with anxiety and fear around the idea of an active shooter, or a lockdown scenario. They are not blind to that.”
“My daughter was very nervous of my coming here,” she continued, noting how common guns are. “So, I think it affects the mental wellness and the mental health of our children.”
Other celebrities, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Niecy Nash and Amanda Seales, also voiced their support for the movement.
In response to the sit-in, the governor’s office released a statement Monday, writing that Polis supports the right to bear arms and is also concerned “about improving public safety including reducing gun violence.”
The statement added that his “staff has met with the organizers and have expressed concerns that the requests being made are either unconstitutional or require legislative action. The Governor takes the weighty responsibility of executive action and the trust Coloradans placed in him to govern responsibly seriously, and will not issue an unconstitutional order that will be struck down in court simply to make a public relations statement — he will continue to focus on real solutions to help make Colorado one of the 10 safest states.”
The organizers said they plan to continue the sit-in until an executive order is signed, and they expressed optimism that it will be.
“We have to believe that any decent human being with the power to end children's pain and suffering will absolutely choose their right to live over the right to bear arms,” Rao said. “We believe [Polis] will do it because what decent human being wouldn't do it?”
(DENVER) -- One of America's most notorious spies, Robert Hanssen, was found dead on Monday at a maximum security prison in Colorado, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson told ABC News.
Just before 7 a.m. on Monday morning, Hanssen, 79, was found dead in his cell, the official said.
The crimes Hanssen committed were some of the most dangerous and egregious in American history. Beginning in 1985, Hanssen worked with handlers from the Soviet Union, using the alias "Ramon Garcia." providing highly classified national security information in exchange for $1.4 million, according to the FBI.
Hanssen used encrypted communications, "dead drops," including one just outside of Washington, D.C., at a park in Fairfax County, Virginia, and other methods to provide information to the KGB and Soviet Union.
On more than 20 separate occasions, Hanssen left packages for Russian authorities at various drops around the Washington area, the FBI said, totaling more than 6,000 pages of classified material. Some of the material was used to hunt down confidential human sources in Russia, according to the government.
After the FBI arrested CIA analyst Aldrich Ames, who was convicted on espionage charges, the agencies realized there was a mole inside the FBI. Hanssen, who was working at the State Department when the FBI realized he was potentially a spy, was moved back to FBI headquarters and given a bogus assignment, according to details from the case.
By 2001, investigators believed Hanssen was going to make a "dead drop" of information at a park in Virginia, just outside Washington. Agents said they observed Hanssen trade a plastic bag full of classified information for $50,000 in cash.
"Robert Hanssen's death brings a somber end to one of the most infamous espionage cases in U.S. history," Javed Ali, former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council, said to ABC News.
"While acting as a senior agent on the Soviet/Russian counterintelligence program at FBI headquarters, Hanssen betrayed his country for money and caused major damage to U.S. national security by revealing a significant amount of highly sensitive U.S. intelligence, the status of ongoing FBI investigations, and the identity of human sources," he said. "As reported by the media in the aftermath of his arrest, his actions led to the death of those sources in Russia or elsewhere, and most very likely made it difficult to replace their placement and access on intelligence topics for some period of time, if ever."
Hanssen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage on July 6, 2001. On May 10, 2002, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
(DAVENPORT, Iowa) -- The bodies of the two remaining men who were missing amid the Davenport, Iowa, apartment collapse have been recovered, officials announced Monday.
The body of building resident Ryan Hitchcock, 51, was found at about 12:25 p.m. Sunday and the remains of Daniel Prien, 60, were recovered at about 2:30 a.m. Monday, officials said at a news conference.
The body of Branden Colvin, 42, was found on Saturday, officials said over the weekend.
All three men lived in apartments in the collapse zone. Autopsies will be conducted, officials said.
No one else is believed to be missing, officials said.
More than a dozen people evacuated the six-story building at the time of the May 28 collapse, and an additional eight people were rescued in the 24 hours after.
On May 29, officials said there was no credible information that anyone was missing and the city would move forward with plans to begin demolishing the remaining structure the next day. But that night, rescuers found a ninth person alive inside and pulled her out of a fourth-story window.
On May 30, the city's demolition plans were put on hold as officials announced that five residents were still unaccounted for, including two -- Colvin and Hitchcock -- who may be inside.
On Thursday, officials announced that three residents remained missing: Colvin, Hitchcock and Prien.
Officials said Monday that multiple structural experts are participating in a discussion on how to dismantle the remaining portions of the building.
(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta City Council will vote Monday on allocating up to $31 million to "support the continued construction of and improvements to" the controversial Atlanta Public Safety Training Center.
The vote, happening at 1 p.m., could amend the 2023 general fund budget to transfer and allocate no more than $30 million to support the facility.
It would also authorize the mayor or chief financial officer to use $1 million in public safety impact fees to install a gymnasium facility on the project site.
The center, set to be used for specialized training for both law enforcement and fire department service workers, has garnered national attention for the riotous protests against it.
City officials assert the center could improve policing, while critics claim the effort is militarizing police and endangering local forests. Protesters have dubbed the training center "Cop City."
The center will include an "auditorium for police/fire and public use," a "mock city for burn building training and urban police training," an "Emergency Vehicle Operator Course for emergency vehicle driver training," a K-9 unit kennel and training, according to the center's website.
The first phase of the training center is scheduled to open in late 2023.
Protests against the center escalated when a protester, Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, was shot and killed by police on Jan. 23 as they raided the campground occupied by demonstrators against the project.
Terán had at least 57 gunshot wounds in their body, according to the autopsy by the DeKalb County Medical Examiner sent to ABC News, including in the hands, torso, legs and head.
Officials said the protester fired the first shot at a state trooper, and the officer responded with the fatal shot.
According to the autopsy, Terán did not have gunpowder residue on their hands.
Since Terán's death, protests have continued, with dozens of protesters arrested.
Last week, police arrested three Atlanta leaders of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, which has bailed out protesters and helped them find lawyers. They were charged with money laundering and charity fraud and have since been granted bond.
(NEW YORK) -- Dangerous air quality will be a significant issue for millions of Americans to deal with early this week, as fires continue to spark throughout Canada.
Much of that smoke is coming from new wildfires in the Quebec province, according to meteorologists.
There have been nearly 400 forest fires in the province so far in 2023, while the 10-year average is 197, data from the fire prevention nonprofit SOPFEU shows, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Satellite images show smoke moving over areas from Chicago and Indianapolis to Cincinnati, and much of Wisconsin is experiencing dangerous air near the surface.
This near-surface smoke, meaning people would be able to breathe it, stretched from Wisconsin to West Virginia on Sunday.
Dry weather and gusty winds in the Midwest have increased the wildfire risk, with a large portion of Michigan under a red flag warning.
Outdoor burning is not recommended, as firefighters have been working to put out several fires over the last few days.
The Wilderness Trail Fire in Michigan, which began on Saturday, has burned about 2,400 acres and is 85% contained, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Older adults, kids, people with lung or heart disease and those who are pregnant should not partake in lengthy or heavy exertion, according to meteorologists.
The near-surface smoke will intensify by Tuesday morning, impacting areas from Nashville to Indianapolis, Pittsburgh to New York City and Hartford, Connecticut, to Burlington, Vermont.
Despite inching closer to the official start of summer, a large part of the Northeast was unseasonably cool on Sunday, with much of New England looking at high temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
A persistent cloudy and showery stretch of weather this weekend is leading to temperatures that are 20 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of year.
Temperatures are expected to steadily rebound into the 70s headed through the upcoming week.
New York and Pittsburgh are both forecast to reach 81 degrees on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in the tropics, Tropical Storm Arlene, the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm, has fizzled out. However, a showery pattern remains for south Florida.
A flood watch will remain in effect until at least Sunday evening due to an additional 1 to 2 inches of rain in cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
(HOLLYWOOD, Fla.) -- Police continue to search for an additional suspect after nine people, including children, were shot and injured along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk on Florida's east coast.
Four children between the ages of 1 and 17 were shot Monday night, including a baby between 15 and 18 months old, according to Hollywood police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi.
The other five victims were adults ages 25 to 65.
The four children remain hospitalized on Wednesday, all in stable condition, according to hospital officials. The injured adults have been treated and released.
The shooting apparently stemmed from an altercation between two groups, and multiple people were detained in the aftermath, Bettineschi said Tuesday.
Two men believed to be involved in the shooting have been arrested on weapons charges, Bettineschi said. Morgan Deslouches, 18, and Keshawn Paul Stewart, 18, both face a concealed carry weapon charge in connection with the incident. Deslouches also has been charged with larceny-grand theft of a firearm and removing the serial number from a firearm, court records show.
A third suspect was taken into custody Saturday, and a fourth suspect was taken into custody Sunday, police said.
Authorities said they're still looking to identify one more person they believe was also involved in the shooting.
"No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice," Hollywood Beach Mayor Josh Levy said in a statement Tuesday. "We will utilize every available resource to apprehend those responsible."
"It is completely unacceptable that innocent people spending time with family on a holiday weekend have been affected by a shooting altercation between two groups who came into our city with guns and no regard for the safety of the law-abiding public around them," Levy added.
ABC News' Darren Reynolds, Peter Charalambous and Okelo Pena contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- Federal officials have launched an investigation into how an unresponsive Cessna aircraft flew into restricted airspace in Washington, D.C., triggering the launch of fighter jets.
A loud sonic boom could be heard throughout the D.C. region on Sunday as two F-16s launched from nearby Joint Base Andrews in Maryland to investigate, military officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said late Sunday it had begun an investigation into the crash. Investigators are expected to be on the ground on Monday.
The unresponsive plane, a Cessna 560 Citation V, traveled at 34,000 feet through restricted airspace before crashing n a mountainous area of southwest Virginia at approximately 3:30 p.m. local time. The Virginia State Police will identify the victims.
The private jet had been owned by Florida-based Encore Motors, The New York Times reported Sunday.
When Times reporters reached Encore's 75-year-old owner, John Rumpel, he reportedly identified four people who had been on the downed flight: his daughter, a granddaughter, a nanny and a pilot.
Six F-16s from three different units and bases were involved in tracking the Cessna, according to U.S. Northern Command. All six scrambled at the same time.
The two F-16s from the 113th Fighter Wing that took off from Joint Base Andrews were the first to reach the Cessna, Defense officials said. The pilots and aircraft were with the D.C. Air National Guard.
The four other F-16s that scrambled were from the 177th FW from Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the 169th FW from McIntyre, South Carolina, officials said.
"Based on the length of the flight path the FAA described for this event, it is normal procedure to have made NORAD aircraft available at several locations," a North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesperson said on Sunday.
A preliminary report from NTSB investigators is expected within three weeks, officials said. That report is expected to look at "the human, machine and environment as the outline of the investigation," NTSB officials said.
"At this early stage of an investigation, NTSB does not state a cause but will provide factual information when available," the board said.
(NEW YORK) -- New York will try to make it a crime to print a gun at home.
Lawmakers are responding to a surge in gun crimes committed with untraceable firearms, known as ghost guns, increasingly being created using a 3D printer.
"You can sit at your kitchen table and print out weapons of destruction," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Friday during a visit with reporters.
Under current New York law, someone who possesses or distributes a 3D printed gun can be charged with a misdemeanor. A proposed new law would make it a felony to manufacture a gun using a 3D printer.
The goal is to "attack the manufacture" of these kinds of weapons, which can be printed for a fraction of the cost of buying a traditional firearm, said State Senator Brad Hoylman, a sponsor.
The necessary components to create a fully functional 3D printed gun cost about $150 dollars, according to the NYPD.
"We have individuals who that are printing silencers, they're printing magazines for AR's and AR-type rifles," said NYPD Inspector Courtney Nilan.
According to the NYPD, there has been a 75% increase in ghost gun seizures in the past year. 20 ghost guns have been recovered at the scenes of homicides or shootings just in Manhattan since the start of 2022. Since the Manhattan district attorney's office began keeping track in 2021, there have been 90 ghost gun prosecutions in the office.
"Guns aren't manufactured in New York," Bragg said. "Through these printers, that is changing."
The proposed legislation would criminalize both the printing of guns and the intentional sharing of the digital instructions the printer needs to follow.
Licensed gun owners in New York are allowed to use a 3D printer to print a gun but they must immediately register the new weapon with ATF, something the authorities said no one has ever done.
In April, thousands of guns -- including numerous assault-style rifles and ghost guns -- were surrendered in a single day over the weekend across the state of New York in exchange for gift cards, according to New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
(NEW YORK) -- A Tennessee woman allegedly paid to hire a hitman to kill the wife of a man she met on a dating site, according to a criminal complaint.
Melody Sasser was arrested May 18 and is being held in custody on probable cause that she allegedly attempted murder for hire. She is accused of transferring about $10,000 in bitcoin to a site named "Online Killers Market" in exchange for the murder of the wife of the man she met on the dating site, federal agents said in the complaint dated May 11.
Sasser and the man she met on Match.com had become hiking friends, according to the complaint. But when Sasser's match revealed he was moving out of state with the woman he planned to marry, Sasser allegedly turned to the dark web, the complaint said. Under the pseudonym "cattree," Sasser allegedly posted her hit order on the website, authorities said.
"It needs to seem random or [an] accident. Or plant drugs, do not want a long investigation," Sasser posted on Jan. 11, authorities alleged in the complaint.
Sasser's defense attorney, M. Jeffrey Whitt, declined ABC News' request for comment.
Sasser had showed up unannounced at the couple's new home in Alabama in the fall of 2022, authorities said. "I hope you both fall off a cliff and die," Sasser allegedly told the pair, after learning of their plans to wed, according to the complaint.
Around that time, the soon-to-be-wife of the man she had matched with reported that both sides of her car had been "gashed" by an unknown perpetrator, the complaint said. The woman also began receiving threatening calls from untraceable numbers, authorities added.
Sasser allegedly provided a would-be killer with detailed information about her match's wife, which included where she lived, where she worked and what car she drove, authorities said. She also purportedly passed along specific information about the intended victim's whereabouts, according to the complaint. Authorities said she found that information from the fitness tracking application Strava, which connects to Garmin fitness watches and shares location data.
"Yesterday she worked from home and went for a 2 mile walk by herself," Sasser allegedly wrote to the murder-for-hire website in March, according to the complaint. Authorities said they later confirmed, via the hiking app, that the information Sasser provided to "Online Killers Market" was accurate.
ABC News' has reached out to Strava for comment.
By late March, as her apparent target remained alive, Sasser grew impatient, authorities wrote in the complaint, and she allegedly took to "cattree" again to message the administrator of the dark web site to check on the status of her murder request.
"I have waited for two months and 11 days and the job is not completed... What is the delay. When will it be done," she allegedly wrote.
On May 18, Sasser was arrested on probable cause that she allegedly attempted to hire a hitman to commit murder.
She is due to appear in federal court on Thursday.
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- More than a dozen migrants were dropped off on the doorstep of a California church after being transported to the state via private plane, according to state officials.
The migrants were dropped off at the Diocese of Sacramento on Saturday "with no prior arrangement or care in place" and in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.
The group had been transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Officials are evaluating potential civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of "these vulnerable immigrants," Bonta said, comparing the move to "state-sanctioned kidnapping."
The California Department of Justice is investigating the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping, Newsom said.
The group of migrants was allegedly approached by a private contractor in El Paso, Texas, who told them they would be provided with jobs, free support and help getting into a migrant center, ABC Sacramento affiliate KXTV reported, citing the Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT).
The 16 migrants did not know where they were and only had a backpack's worth of belongings, Diocese of Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto said in a statement.
"While we continue to collect evidence, I want to say this very clearly: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice, it is immoral and disgusting," Bonta said. "We are a nation built by immigrants and we must condemn the cruelty and hateful rhetoric of those, whether they are state leaders or private parties, who refuse to recognize humanity and who turn their backs on extending dignity and care to fellow human beings."
Newsom and Bonta met with the group of migrants on Saturday and are working with the office of Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and local and nonprofit partners to ensure the migrants are treated with respect and dignity and get to their intended destination as they pursue their immigration cases, officials said.
The city is welcoming the migrants with open arms, Steinberg said in a statement, accusing those who transported the migrants of "using scared human beings to score cheap political points."
"California and the Sacramento community will welcome these individuals with open arms and provide them with the respect, compassion, and care they will need after such a harrowing experience," Bonta said.
(DAVENPORT, Iowa) -- The body of one of the missing residents still thought to be inside of a partially collapsed apartment building in Iowa has been found, officials told ABC News.
Branden Colvin, 42, was found on Saturday -- a week after the building in downtown Davenport, Iowa, collapsed, Sarah Ott, chief strategy officer for the City of Davenport, confirmed to ABC News.
Colvin was one of three people still unaccounted for. Ryan Hitchcock, 51, and Daniel Prien, 60, remain missing.
All three residents lived in apartments in the section of the building that collapsed, according to authorities, officials said.
They were likely inside the structure in an area that's "not sustainable for life," officials said.
The Iowa Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team trained and equipped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, arrived in the city on Thursday with live and cadaver dogs to search for humans, alive and dead, the city announced in a press release.
More than a dozen people were evacuated at the time of the collapse, while an additional eight people and several pets were evacuated in the 24 hours after.
Members of the community called for the demolition to be delayed after rescuers pulled a ninth person alive through a fourth-story window last Monday.
The day after the crash, city officials announced there was no credible information that anyone was still missing and that the city would move forward with plans to demolish the remaining structure on Tuesday. It is unclear how the woman had not been found earlier, despite the use of thermal imaging, drones and dogs.
The structure is unstable and continues to degrade, officials warned. Search crews are working with structural engineers on how to best search the building while avoiding the piles of debris.
The debris is currently helping to stabilize the building, and removing it could "jeopardize or accelerate the inevitable collapse," according to city officials.
Ott said the city has no additional comment at this time.
ABC News' Jianna Cousin, Alex Perez and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) -- As Pride Month kicks off, the continuing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation that has grown over the past several years is on the minds of many people, and event organizers across the country say they have prepared for this and have implemented security protocols that ensure performers and attendees can have fun without fear.
“Are we increasing our plans for security? The answer is no, not because we don't see the need for it, but because our plans have been incredibly robust to begin with for many years,” said Dan Dimant, the media director for NYC Pride.
Cameron Jay Harrelson, the parade director for Georgia's Athens Pride, said that hosting such events in the deep South has always made organizers “hyper aware and hyper-focused” on safety.
“That feels a little more heavy this year with the attacks that we've seen in legislation, in politics across the country,” Harrelson said.
The Department of Homeland Security has recently sounded the alarm on the growing threat of violence or extremism, but queer communities nationwide say they have been prepared for backlash for years.
Since the Pulse club massacre in Orlando, Florida, in 2016 that left 49 dead at the LGBTQ+ venue – and after the recent November mass shooting at a Colorado queer bar that killed five – the community has been on high alert.
“We're in a very scary time,” said Harrelson. “We saw what happened in Colorado Springs not too long ago. We saw what happened at Pulse several years ago … we know what the next iteration of anti-LGBTQ protesters are capable of, so we have to be prepared, hyper aware and vigilant.”
Fears of violence aren't new for the LGBTQ+ community. According to DHS, about 20% of all hate crimes reported throughout the country in 2021 were motivated by bias linked to sexual orientation and gender.
Event goers can expect heavy security, blocked off streets, ample medical personnel, and more at Pride events throughout the country.
In states with few firearm restrictions like Texas, Jeremy Liebbe, director of security for Dallas Pride, told ABC News that there are layers of police, security and threat management both invisible and visible to the public for all events in the city.
“State law allows us to restrict who can possess a firearm at Dallas Pride,” Liebbe said. “Both unlicensed possession of firearms and licensed open carry of handguns will be prohibited with the requisite signs” during the festivities.
Where there are counterprotesters, event goers may be shielded by volunteers who block out the hate so attendees can enjoy the festivities in peace.
“We actually have a group of what we call our queer dads,” said Harrelson. “They are a group of fathers of queer kids, queer youth. And they are coming and holding these large sheets … and they just stand in front of protesters and completely block their signage, their sound, everything.”
In some cases, the themes of Pride events this year will be reflective of the issues going on around the country facing the queer community.
Organizers say they are highlighting the communities most vulnerable to legislative attacks in recent years, including restrictions facing drag performers and transgender health care.
“If you're going to try to take away our drag, we're just going to add more,” Kylan L. Durant, president of the Oklahoma City Pride Alliance, told ABC News.
“Then also we have always put – and even more so this year – putting emphasis on having trans performers on the stage, too, because we know that that is part of the community that is hard hit with a lot of this legislation.”
Event organizers say that it’s natural for participants to have a heightened sense of awareness amid the current political climate – but they say going back into hiding is exactly what hateful threats are aiming to do. Still, they say people should do what makes them feel the safest.
“We understand the reality of it and we understand people are gonna feel hesitant this year,” said Durant. “But I also want to remind folks that's the thing that they want to do. They want to instill fear so we don't have the celebration, so we don't show up to be around each other.”
Dimant added, “There are bad actors out there who are making threats, who are sharing falsehoods, who are just spreading hateful rhetoric. And they're doing that so that you'll stay home and you won't show up at Pride and live your truth.”
(FLORIDA) -- A 24-year-old Florida woman is facing criminal charges after she allegedly left two children in a car that caught fire while she was shoplifting at a mall, according to the Oviedo Police Department.
Alicia Moore, who was arrested for an unrelated warrant, was charged with aggravated child abuse and arson, according to a police report.
Moore parked her car in the parking lot of a Dillard's at the Oviedo Mall, leaving the children inside her car. Moore was then observed inside Dillard's with another male and began to shoplift items, according to police. The two were watched by security for an hour, police said.
Moore then began to exit Dillard's about an hour later, only to see her vehicle engulfed in flames. She then dropped the merchandise before exiting the store, according to the police report.
Citizens who saw the vehicle engulfed in flames helped the children escape, authorities said. Law enforcement and fire rescue were notified.
The children were rushed to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital for medical attention and suffered first-degree burns from the fire, according to police.
The vehicle was totaled in the incident, according to police.
While in custody, the child neglect and arson charges were added. She faces a $15,000 bond for the child neglect charge.
Police said they do not know how the fire was started but placed blame on Moore, saying she was "neglectful," according to the police report.