Thousands attend vigils around US for Orlando victims

Thousands attend vigils around US for Orlando victims
Posted at 9:38 AM, Jun 14, 2016

Thousands have turned out for vigils, rallies and marches around the country for the victims of the deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The events come during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

Some of the events:



Thousands crowded the streets Monday around the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan where large-scale gay rights activism got its start in 1969.

Under banners heralding the upcoming Pride Week event, people held hands and hugged. Some waved rainbow flags and others carried signs showing support for Orlando as they listened to a slew of elected officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Spectators watched from fire escapes and windows of nearby apartment buildings as chants of "love beats hate" rang from the crowd.

Thomas Dougherty, 23, of Manhattan, said he came to the rally to feel united and connected.

"Seeing everyone here makes me feel at home, makes me feel safe," he said.



In the city where the shooting happened, thousands of people gathered Monday evening to support victims and survivors.

Many in the crowd in downtown Orlando said they were inspired to attend because the Pulse nightclub, where the massacre occurred, played a huge role in their lives as gays and lesbians.

"Pulse gave me confidence, made me realize I was normal and so much like everyone else," said Cathleen Daus, a former employee at the club.

The vigil was held on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center, the area's main performing arts venue. It's also the location of a makeshift memorial, where people have been leaving flowers, candles and notes for the victims.

Several other Florida communities also have events planned.



Lady Gaga addressed a crowd of thousands Monday night at Los Angeles City Hall, and the singer began a joint reading of the victims' names.

She called the attack horrible and painful and an attack on humanity itself.

The rainbow colors of the gay pride flag flew on the side of the California Capitol and on the floor of the Senate — a first for the Senate, according to President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Democrat.

In San Francisco, home to one of the nation's largest gay communities, police said more officers would be patrolling popular LGBT venues and local mosques in the weeks ahead.

Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro District on the city Board of Supervisors, said he intends to host a meeting this week to involve owners of gay nightclubs, bars and restaurants in planning discussions with police.



Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders marched with hundreds of people from downtown Burlington to City Hall Park. Sanders spoke briefly, encouraging the crowd to help "create the kind of nation based on love that we all know we can become." The Pride Center of Vermont organized the march and vigil.



About 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil outside a gay nightclub in Providence, followed by a march to the Statehouse steps.

With other vigils and memorials also scheduled around the state Monday and Tuesday — and the Rhode Island Pride Festival expected to draw 40,000 people Saturday in Providence — police were planning to provide more officers, dogs and other security measures for the events.

The head of the state police and members of the Providence Police Department met Monday with Pride Festival organizers and the owners of several gay bars.

"They are nervous, like any other community that was targeted for violence," State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O'Donnell said.



The Alaska House of Representatives stood for a moment of silence Monday to honor the Orlando victims, at the request of Rep. Matt Claman, a Democrat. The Senate doesn't have a floor session scheduled until Thursday.



Vigils were held around Colorado, with one of the biggest in Denver's Cheesman Park. Meanwhile, organizers of Denver's PrideFest say next weekend's festival will go ahead with tight security, including metal detectors and fences.



More than two dozen human rights organizations have announced plans for a vigil and community gathering Tuesday night at Atlanta's Center for Civil and Human Rights. The groups include gay rights organizations, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta and the Anti-Defamation League.



Members and supporters of Maui's LGBT community gathered to honor the victims. The Maui News reports that nearly 200 people attended the vigil on the shore in front of the Maui Sunseeker LGBT Resort. Speakers encouraged the crowd to not give in to fear. Friends and strangers linked arms and tossed flower petals into the ocean. Jaysen Giroux, a 14-year-old transgender youth, shared a poem written for the victims. In Honolulu, Rainbow Family 808 was to host a gathering at Honolulu Hale, where the city government and mayor's office are housed, to watch as rainbow lights illuminate the building.



A vigil was held in Sandpoint, a small lakefront town in the north of the state, among other events this week. Chelsea Gaona Lincoln, an LGBT-rights activist who helped organize the vigils, urged the public to help protect the rights of Idaho's gay community.

Organizers of the ongoing Boise Pridefest, Idaho's largest LGBT pride event, met with police Monday to talk security details and shift the route of the event's upcoming parade away from the heart of downtown, for safety's sake.



Gov. John Bel Edwards described the Orlando shooting victims as "our brothers and sisters" during a vigil with Louisiana's legislative leaders at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

In New Orleans, dozens gathered Monday at a church near the French Quarter to pray for the families and victims.

"In a time like this, community is real important to me," said Stephanie Oshrin, 26, of New Orleans. "I'm part of a community where there are not a lot of safe places and there's a real sadness that comes when one of those places you think are safe is violated."



Several Maine communities were holding vigils including Portland, Bangor, Auburn, Bar Harbor, Damariscotta, Hallowell, Farmington, Ellsworth and Machias. More are scheduled for later in the week.

Matt Moonen, executive director of EqualityMaine, said the events Monday evening "will enable us to come together to mourn those lost in Orlando."



Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged people at a vigil in the city to stand together against hatred.

"There are times like this when words seem insufficient because of the measure of hate it would take to have to do what they did to innocent people," she said. "And then, I think the only way to combat that hate is not a ministry of words, but of presence. Just being here is speaking volumes about who we are as Baltimoreans. We stand together," she said.

As the sun set over Baltimore, the crowd swelled well beyond the confines of a grassy lot where the vigil was held.



Hundreds of people gathered Monday night in Boston. Many carried rainbow-colored flags and signs calling for peace. At times they held and comforted each other. Speakers addressed the crowd in both English and Spanish.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker attended the candlelight vigil at City Hall Plaza.



Advocacy groups held a vigil Monday evening at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The organizations included advocates for immigrant students, LGBT people and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence.



Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales announced plans for a public event honoring the shooting victims Monday on the Santa Fe Plaza, the landmark square that has served as the capital city's central gathering spot for hundreds of years. A vigil also was planned in a park in Farmington, a mid-sized city near the Colorado border.



Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley planned to attend a Monday night vigil at a downtown nightclub. Cranley, a Democrat, said he's proud to stand in solidarity with LGBT people "and to let the world know that Cincinnati is an inclusive and welcoming city."



The Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland was illuminated in rainbow colors Monday night. The rainbow colors had already been slated to return for the city's annual Pride weekend, which starts Friday.



Philadelphia's LGBT community held an early evening vigil outside City Hall in what organizers describe as an outpouring of "grief, love and solidarity for the victims in Orlando."

An evening march also was planned in the state capital, Harrisburg.



Dozens of mourners converged on Metropolitan Community Church of Corpus Christi, where members of the South Texas coastal city's LGBT community comprise a majority of the congregation. Deacon Andy Wilcox said bringing members of the community together was important for comfort and healing — "When you share a burden, it gets light."



A Muslim-American women's group held a candlelight vigil Monday night in Dupont Circle, the hub of a neighborhood near downtown. Organizers say the goal is to stand together against anti-gay, anti-transgender and anti-Muslim bias.