The general manager of Divas Nightclub in Saskatoon felt “disgust, shock and fear” when he learned of the fatal shooting at an Orlando, Fla. gay bar. But Aaron Paetsch said he won’t let it change the way he does business.
He recalled stories from previous managers where in the 1980s and 90s, people would throw smoke bombs and broken bottles, along with yelling slurs at bar patrons.
As a result, Divas has buzz-activated doors, security, bag checks and numerous emergency exits.
“Right now, it’s basically just making sure we’re on top of our game and still doing everything we need to do, and have always done, to ensure that everybody is safe and enjoys their time here,” Paetsch said.
Forty-nine people and the shooter were killed, and another 53 wounded, early Sunday morning at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The pride flag on top of Divas Nightclub was lowered to mark the massacre.
The event shocked emergency personnel around the world, including Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill.
He said local police “track” hate crimes, but have never had a problem with them in Saskatoon.
“We seem to be a city that embraces diversity, especially with the LGBT community,” Weighill said.
There were no safety concerns during the Saskatoon Pride Parade and there was no increased security, Weighill said.
Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison released a statement in reaction to the killings in Orlando.
“I was shocked and saddened at the tragedy in Orlando, Florida. Once again the world stands united against an act of terrorism and hate. Today we grieve for the victims and offer our condolences to their families and friends,” Atchison said.
However, the mayor’s statement also created some controversy.
The Saskatoon Pride Festival concluded Sunday, June 12.