NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Vigils, rallies and marches were held around the country Monday for the 49 victims of the deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Under banners heralding the upcoming Pride Week event, thousands crowded the streets around the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village as the names of the victims were read aloud.
Police stood guard as 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 Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“All in solidarity, all in common cause and when thousands of people come together in love, in support, it is a renunciation of hatred. It is a way of overcoming pain,” de Blasio said. “So your very act of solidarity tonight starts to move us forward.”
Mahfoud Laziz went to high school in Orlando with one of the victims, 21-year-old Cory James Connell. Like so many, his grief has turned to anger.
“In 2016, this should not be happening,” he said. “If you don’t agree with somebody, that doesn’t mean go buy a gun and kill their community.”
But among the tears, there was also hope.
“The good guys always win,” said mourner Alan Corduner. “Because that’s the history of the world.”
Meanwhile, local religious leaders in Orlando have publicly expressed concern about the role they’ve played in ostracizing the gay community, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
At Tuesday night’s memorial service, a pastor who was asked to lead the prayer for LGBT people admitted he was unsure how to do that. He said he wondered whether he’s been someone complicit in what happened.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs reflected on what that says.
“Last night was the most dramatic change I have ever seen in how our churches respond to the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Among all the love and support, there was also a demand for sensible gun control.
During the vigil, Cuomo accused the federal government of doing nothing in the face of mass shooting after mass shooting.
“The frustration at a society that would allow a madman to buy an assault weapon has gone on for too long,” Cuomo said. “We went through it at Sandy Hook. How many people have to die before this federal government comes to its senses?”
New York City first lady Chirlane McCray also called for gun reform and a stronger effort to fight mental illness.
Meanwhile, thousands of people also gathered Monday evening in the city where the shooting happened 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.
Fatima Perez’s friend and co-worker lost his 22-year-old son, Juan Guerrero.
“The only thing I could do to help is just to be here, show them that I am with them the whole time 100 percent,” Perez told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
Elsewhere, about 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil outside a gay nightclub in Providence, Rhode Island followed by a march to the Statehouse steps.
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.
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 held vigils including Portland, Bangor, Auburn, Bar Harbor, Damariscotta, Hallowell, Farmington, Ellsworth and Machias. More are scheduled for later in the week.
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.
And in Washington D.C., a Muslim-American women’s group held a candlelight vigil Monday night in Dupont Circle, the hub of a neighborhood near downtown.
Organizers said the goal was to stand together against anti-gay, anti-transgender and anti-Muslim bias.
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