In what could be a hate crime, dozens of tires on floats headed for Chicago's Pride Parade were cut with knives just hours before the Parade Sunday.
Chuck Huser, owner of long-time Pride float provider Assocated Attractions at 4834 S. Halsted on Chicago's South Side, said the floats were fine when he left 8 p.m. Saturday night, but when he returned 5 a.m. Sunday to start preparation for drivers to depart, he found two tires punctured each on more than 30 floats.
"This is catastrophic," he told Windy City Times at 8 a.m. June 26. "This has never happened before, and we have been doing this since 1989."
Also see a news update "Crowds out of control at Chicago's Pride Parade" posted 5p.m. Sunday, June 26, 2011 at www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=32504
The attackers broken in but did no other damage to the floats, and they took nothing else, leaving Huser to believe this had to be a hate crime. No notes were left.
Huser has filed a police report, but his main focus the morning of the Pride Parade was finding an open tire shop, where they were running back and forth to repair the tires.
"They didn't want these folks to go out," Huser said. He added that he has no disgruntled employees or customers, and that most of his workers have been with him more than 20 years.
Anna, a worker at ABC Parade Floatsanother Pride Parade provider, located at 3375 W. Columbussaid that the 20 floats it provided this year were not attacked. "We keep our floats indoors, so no one has access to them except our employees," she said. "My heart goes out to [ Huser ] ; he's such a nice guy."
Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer told ChicagoPride.com that he does not expect the parade to be delayed but says some floats will be moved to the end of the parade. Some entries, unfortunately, may no longer be able to participate.
"We will not let this stop us," Pfeiffer said.