NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Yorkers flocked to the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village Sunday evening to grieve the deaths of at least 50 people in a Florida gay nightclub.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the crowd grew by the hundreds over a period of three hours. People laid flowers, sang, and made speeches, and while everyone was devastated, the message that rang out was what the LGBT has been saying for decades – love will overcome.
“This is a place where the community comes to celebrate, and it’s a place where the community comes to mourn,” said Stonewall Inn owner Stacy Lentz.
One poet laid 50 flowers in front of the historic tavern at 53 Christopher St. – one for each victim.
“Here we are once again rallying together,” said Anthony Coda Lopez. “It is a sad, sad state of affairs.”
As the NYPD Counterterrorism Task Force guarded the block, many in the LGBT community said they deal with threats of violence every day.
“The story of violence against LGBT gay people is something that’s going on all around the world,” one attendee said.
Many chose strength over fear. One man attended the vigil in a T-shirt reading, “I am not afraid, I am Pulse,” referring to the Orlando nightclub where the massacre happened.
“I’m not afraid, because when people do things like this to our community, it’s to keep us in fear, and it’s to make sure that we don’t feel safe, and I’m not — I’m going to let them know they can do whatever they want to me, but I’m not going to stand down,” said Brian Worth.
Another vigil attendee, Cameron Cano, stood proudly with a rainbow flag draped over her shoulders.
“This is where the LGBT rights movement started, and I think the Stonewall represents hope,” she said.
Cano was visiting from Florida, and said the Pulse nightclub is one of the known spots amongst her friends.
“They’re always like in the clubs, and this is one of the ones that they always hit up,” she said.
The Stonewall Inn became a national symbol of gay rights after a 1969 police raid led to violent street riots.
Cano said even though we have come a long way since 1969, but there are still those who hate the LGBT community.
“What we have to look at is the fact that this was a hate crime, and this was an attack. This was an attack on my community,” she said.
Authorities are investigating the Orlando shooting as an act of terrorism.
Pride flags were also unfurled outside of City Hall to honor the Orlando Shooting victims and to stand in solidarity with the LGBT community.
“It’s an act of terror, theres no question about that,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “And it’s an act of hate.”
Newtown Action Alliance also announced they would hold a vigil to show solidarity for the victims. The event is being held from 7:30 p.m.- 9 p.m. and calls “all supporters who reject hatred and gun violence” to come light a candle.
NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill says there will be an increased police presence at LGBT institutions, nightlife venues and crowded areas, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported.
“I will be working with the LGBT community not just in Manhattan but in the outer boroughs also to make sure we deploy properly to make people not only safe but to feel safe throughout the city.”
With the Gay Pride Parade just weeks away, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the police presence will be beefed up. Everyone who spoke to CBS2’s Bauman said they were not going to let fear of another attack keep them home.
State police say New Jersey homeland security officials have not detected any credible threats in the wake of Sunday’s shooting in Orlando. But they say authorities continue to closely monitor the situation
Law enforcement authorities in the state’s major cities and at the Jersey Shore — home to many gay clubs — said they had no immediate plans to beef up security or impose new policies.
Names of some of the victims have been released by the City of Orlando as officials work tirelessly to identify individuals and notify family.
Among them are:
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
The NYPD said it is stepping up patrols around NYC in the wake of the shooting.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)