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Security boost as Gay Pride festival nears

July 19, 2007|Tony Perry | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — To avoid a repeat of last year's gay-bashing violence, activists are increasing their neighborhood patrolling for this weekend's Gay Pride festival.

The effort, supported by Mayor Jerry Sanders, will include both walking patrols and a sport-utility vehicle cruising the streets of Normal Heights, Hillcrest and University Heights. The number of police officers assigned to patrol the parade and other events will be increased, a police spokeswoman said.

Last year, in two separate attacks, six gay men were beaten with bats and chains; one was stabbed. The assaults, and a rash of street robberies in gay neighborhoods, led to the formation of the Stonewall Citizens Patrol. "We want to make sure nothing like last year happens again," said patrol co-founder Bob Lehman.

Three adult men and a teenager were arrested within days after last year's attacks. All pleaded guilty. The teen was sentenced to up to 10 years in a youth correctional facility; the adults received sentences of 11 years, 8 years and 32 months.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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