Tallahassee mourn victims of Orlando nightclub shooting
By Haley Proctor
The hastily arranged Sunday evening gathering on Lake Ella was telling. The crowd of about 200 people came together to mourn victims of a mass shooting at Pulse night club in Orlando.
The Sunday morning shooting at the popular gay club claimed the life of more than 50 people, according to Orlando police. They identified the shooter as Omar Mateen.
Local government leaders and elected officials led a lap around Lake Ella as the crowd carried lit candles and lowly sang the old gospel children’s song, “This Little Light of Mine.”
Support for the LGBT community was clearly obvious during an open microphone format, which allowed all persons to offer comments. Many spoke with great passion and their diverse solicitations for healing made the vigil a beautiful service in honor of innocent victims.
“We’re all interwoven, we’re interconnected here,” said Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. He added that Tallahassee “still sees humanity even in the folks we don’t know. But we still care about them. We’re a loving and caring community.”
But many in attendance struggled to understand why Mateen, a 29-year-old resident of Fort Pierce, would commit such a horrific crime. Andy Janecek, president of Capital Equality, called it a “senseless tragedy.”
“This has become a regular part of the American experience and that is not what this should be,” Janecek added. “It was a crime against people, against humanity.”
City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, who was among those who took the lap around Lake Ella, said he hopes the LGBT community will be encouraged by Sunday’s show of support.
“Obviously it was perpetrated by a deranged individual that sympathized with terrorist ideologies and sought to take out his homophobic hate-filled tendencies on the LGBT community,”
Richardson said. “We’re here this evening to say that not only will we not stand for this but we stand in support of our brothers and sisters of the LGBT movement.”
With Orlando being a little more than 200 miles south of Tallahassee, nightclub promoter TJ expressed concern that the shooting could have taken place at the Roxy where he works.
“This is not only a hate crime against our community but people who love our community, people who are supporting our community, people who are here for us,” he said.