Washington D.C. Vigil Honors Victims of Orlando Nightclub Shooting One Year Later
Up to 200 people gathered in DuPont Circle this week to pay their respects to the 49 victims of the shooting one year ago at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL.
The candlelight vigil, organized by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, brought together members of the LGBTQA community, as well as those who actively support the cause to end gun violence.
A year ago, Omar Mateen, a known “person of interest” to the police, entered Pulse nightclub on “Latin Night” and opened fire on unsuspecting individuals who were dancing, laughing and enjoying the night with friends and lovers.
After the shooting, police discovered that he had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
At the event, many guest speakers including Washington D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser expressed their condolences to the victims’ families. As a way to remember the victims, Mayor Bowser declared June 12th “Orlando United Day” in Washington D.C.
Several people wore deep-purple t-shirts with “Orlando United” and Rainbow Pride colors inside of a Heart, pasted on the front .
The affect of the Pulse murderers was palpable in the crowd at DuPont Circle.
As Jose Gutierrez, an activist and founder of the Latino GLBT History Project began reading the names of each of the 49 victims of the massacre a year ago, many attendees began to shed tears. Friends and strangers held hands, leaning on one another for support.
“The fact that they brought together the LGBTQ community, though it is sad that it was Pulse that caused it, but this is exactly the kind of thing that we have to do,” said Angela Lancaster, a supporter and advocate for ending gun violence and hate.
Although this event specifically addressed the victims of the Pulse shooting, the topic of gun violence remained at the core of the vigil. The vigil also represented others who have been victimized by gun violence.
“The love of a parent is not enough to protect a classroom full of children,” said Catherine McCarthy, referencing the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 in Newtown, CT.
Over the past decade, the United States has experienced multiple mass murders by shooting. That has placed the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the crosshair for many Democrats and Independents alike.
“Our agenda on background check is too tepid to be selling these weapons,” said Chuck Muckenfuss,” an attendee at the vigil. “There should be better licensing and registration.”
At the conclusion of the evening, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington invited the crowd to join them in singing a personalized version of a well-known gospel song, “We Shall Overcome.”
Some older people in the crowd said the song touched them deeply as it reminded them of the strife that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement many years ago.
“We’re [baby] boomers, so singing “We Shall Overcome” resonates emotionally with us,” said Muckenfuss. “Now 50 years later, the notion that we’re still debating some of the same stuff is awful.”
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