Outside of Orlando itself, few places have been as closely affected by the massacre at Pulse nightclub as Miami — and in particular the Magic City's LGBT community. South Florida's gay scene is closely linked to the one in Central Florida, and at least one of the victims who died Sunday had lived in Miami for a time.
Then there's the fact that the shooter reportedly began plotting his anti-gay hate crime when he saw two men kissing at Miami's Bayside Marketplace. There's a palpable feeling that the crime easily could have happened here instead of Orlando.
So it's no shock that police agencies around South Florida have begun stepping up patrols around gay clubs, bars, and gathering places — particularly in South Beach, long the spiritual home of Miami's LGBT scene.
Yesterday, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and his staff visited gay establishments around the city and promised to step up patrols.
"We met with owners and the management to express our condolences and to reassure them that we're doing anything possible to protect them," says Officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesperson for MBPD. "We also asked for their help, if they see something and to say something."
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The increased MBPD presence was notable at clubs last night, with well-known drag queen Shelley Novak praising their work last night:
The City of Miami and Miami-Dade police departments announced similar plans, though they haven't released specifics on how they'll change patrolling.
It's still not clear yet the degree to which Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen acted alone and how much he was directed by ISIS to go after the gay community. But this morning, the Islamic terrorist group claimed credit for the attack, and Mateen pledged support to the group during a 911 call as he held hostages in the club.
Whether the mass murder was planned or simply inspired by the group's calls for attacks on civilians during Ramadan, there's