Mayor Ed Murray’s office is organizing a candlelight vigil at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill to memorialize victims of worst mass shooting in U.S. history
Local civic and LGBTQ community leaders said they felt sickened and grief-stricken as they awoke Sunday to the news of the massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub.
“Words cannot adequately encompass the feelings of grief I am feeling for the loss of so many of our LGBTQ and allied brothers and sisters in Orlando during the largest single act of violence against LGBTQ people in United States history,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the city’s first openly gay mayor.
The mayor’s office, along with leaders in the LGBTQ community, are organizing a vigil for 8 p.m. Sunday night at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill.
The Seattle Police Department has increased security for Pride events and other large gatherings, and flags at City Hall are being lowered to half-staff, the mayor’s office said.
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Murray and other local leaders shared their reactions to the attack at the Pulse nightclub that left 50 people dead and 53 wounded:
Marcos Martinez, executive director of Casa Latina and former executive director of Entre Hermanos, a Seattle organization that supports the Latino LGBTQ community:
“It’s obviously a horrible tragedy. I noted that this awful event took place at a Latino-themed night at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. My former organization, Entre Hermanos, hosts a similar night at Neighbors Nightclub here in Seattle. In that sense, it felt like the tragedy hit especially close to home. …
“It just reminds us how much more work there is to do to really educate our communities, our neighbors, our co-workers, our own families about acceptance and about living together.”
Luis Fernando Ramirez, interim executive director, Entre Hermanos:
“It was a hate crime against the LGBT community but it was also against our Latino community — it was double. It’s really, really shocking.
“It is a feeling of being afraid – you don’t know what is going to happen with our community. Even though you are in a free country, most of the time you feel safe but sometimes you feel vulnerable.”
Eleazar Juarez-Diaz, former president of the board, Entre Hermanos:
“The tragedy in Orlando will have a ripple effect across the country to the many communities that have nights like ours [Noche Latina — Latino nights — at nightclubs]. These parties are a safe haven for us and the sense of family and freedom we feel coming together like this will definitely be impacted by this tragedy. That being said, our community is resilient and I know we will come together and show our support for the victims and make it clear that we will not give up our safe and social spaces. The sense of family is palpable at Noche Latina and we will not give that up.”
Louise Chernin, president and CEO, Greater Seattle Business Association, an LGBT and allied chamber of commerce:
“We have spent the last week kicking off a joyous Pride month with flag raisings, proclamations, special events and celebrations. Just a few days ago I wrote to you all that Pride commemorates our history and celebrates our accomplishments. Tragically, this act of terrorism in Orlando shows once again that our work is not yet done and that the dangers the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community face are all too real.
“After our tremendous successes in Washington and nationally over the last decade, our community is under attack on many fronts. We are used to the toxic rhetoric of those who oppose us and our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Nonetheless, the profound pain that we all feel this morning upon waking up to this news is something else entirely.”
Egan Orion, executive director, Seattle PrideFest :
“We will find out more in the days to come, but right now we encourage the community and our allies to focus on the victims, their friends, and their families. If you are in Orlando or have friends or family there, please encourage them to give blood, which is needed right now to save the victims of last night’s mass shooting.
“Pride is normally a joyous time, but this event is a reminder that we still have a lot of work to do and that lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer people in this country still face everyday dangers. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we at PrideFest will use the rest of this season of Pride to renew our fight against forces of hate that seek to divide us and marginalize our community.”
Roger Nyhus, member of Seattle steering committee and national board of governors for Human Rights Campaign:
“The Orlando shooting is the gay community’s 9/11. … It’s horrifying. An attack on any LGBT person or our allies is an attack on all of us. It’s so disheartening given all the progress we’ve made in recent years.
“It’s a double scourge: Anti-gay violence and gun violence. And this the worst of both.”
Monisha Harrell, board chair, Equal Rights Washington:
“This tragedy really puts an exclamation point on one of the issues we’ve been working on: hate crime and working to keep our community safe. We’re at a time now, though you can get married in all 50 states, in a majority of states, you can still be fired for being gay or not get housing. We still haven’t achieved full equality. …
“It’s clearly time for us to lift the ban on gay blood donations as there’s a great need and that was an entirely fear-based policy that is not relevant to the world we know today.”
Marsha Botzer, founder, Ingersoll Gender Center, a Seattle organization that supports transgender people:
“It is another attack on the safety and unity of everyone. It’s true that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people died and their allies died. But I agree with the president that this was an attack on every single one of us. What I believe and ask of everyone is to join with the LGBTQ community to be unified in stopping hate in every form it takes.”
Ana Mari Cauce, president, University of Washington (via Twitter):
“A heartbreaking act of hate will not, cannot stop our work for an inclusive society or our power to love one another. #Orlando”
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:
“Americans woke up this morning with the all-too-familiar feeling of incomprehension at another act of mass violence, and LGBTQ Americans awoke with the sickening, all-too-familiar feeling of fear that our community has once again been attacked.
“Words cannot adequately encompass the feelings of grief I am feeling for the loss of so many of our LGBTQ and allied brothers and sisters in Orlando during the largest single act of violence against LGBTQ people in United States history. For too long, our community has been the target of violence throughout the world. It will never make sense to me that love is met with such hate.
“On behalf of the people of the City of Seattle, my heart and my thoughts go out to those whose lives were forever changed by the events last night.”
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole:
“The Seattle Police Department offers its sincere condolences to all affected by today’s tragic mass shooting in Orlando.
“I have been in communication with senior officials from the FBI and DHS (Department of Homeland Security), as well as our state and local law-enforcement partners. While there is no information indicating any specific threat to Seattle, residents can expect to see increased police in the community.”
Gov. Jay Inslee:
“Yesterday it was such an honor to join Spokane’s inspiring celebration where they, as many communities across the country this weekend, were celebrating the progress we’ve made for our LGBTQ friends and family. …
“This morning we wake up to see this horrific tragedy in Orlando. We are all waiting to learn more about the motivations of this man but there is no doubt that today is one of unimaginable sorrow for the LGBTQ community, the people of Florida, for our nation and for people everywhere who are sickened and shocked by such an act of hatred.
“It’s difficult to even find the right words in a time like this. Trudi and I, and every Washingtonian, send our deepest condolences to the people of Orlando and Florida.”
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director, Washington State chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations:
“My heart goes out to the families of the victims in Orlando. This is a horrible tragedy. American Muslims, like all Americans, are shocked by this tragedy and American Muslims, like all Americans, are praying for the victims and their families and for the swift recovery of those injured. Muslims believe that God favors the peaceful. American Muslims condemn all violent, criminal acts, and they uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. American Muslims share the same American values and freedoms that we all cherish, knowing that we are all in this together.”