Hundreds attend Loring Park vigil for Orlando shooting victims

Published 10:38 am Monday, June 13, 2016

By Peter Cox FM

More than a thousand people gathered in Minneapolis Sunday night to hold a vigil for victims of the shooting in Florida. Singers, politicians and leaders of many community organizations took the stage in mourning and solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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In Loring Park, they gathered as the sun set.

Earlier that day, a gunman opened fire on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 50 others.

Mourners also said they supported the Muslim community. Authorities say the shooter was Omar Mateen, an American citizen who allegedly pledged support for ISIS in a 911 call around the time of the attack.

Monica Meyer, executive director of Outfront Minnesota, organized the vigil.

“We are all coming together to stand up for a state and a country that we know it can be. And we’re here to just really speak out for love,” Meyer said.

Phillipe Cunningham, a senior policy adviser to Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, read a statement from the mayor, who could not attend.

“To the LGBT community, you are loved, whether you were born and raised in Minneapolis, or have come here from other parts of Minnesota or America, or have joined the community as an immigrant or refugee, Minneapolis is your home. We are making it the best possible place for you to live and thrive. Your city loves you.”

In the crowd, people waved rainbow flags and held candles. They cheered and they wept.

Gov. Mark Dayton said the shooter’s actions are not a reflection of a faith.

“What he did to all of you in the LGBT community, and what he did to all of us, as Americans who live together, who share our lives together, who embrace one another, embrace our similarities and embrace our differences. And rejoice that we have a country that tolerates those differences, that gives people those freedoms, those liberties.”

Dayton was among several dozen politicians, heads of community organizations and clergy from the Twin Cities area who called for support the affected communities.

“I want anyone who thinks that anti-gay affliction, perplexity, persecution and striking down LGBQT will weaken our resolve to live openly and freely,” said DeWayne Davis, pastor of All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis.

“Anyone who thinks they will slow down our march to full equality under the law, anyone who thinks that pitting the LGBTQ community against the Muslim community will give free reign to more hatred and violence — I’m here to tell you you will not win.”

Jaylani Hussein, the head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minnesota, said the violent attacks do no represent American Muslims.

“Today we stand together against hatred, violence and demonization of entire communities. This act of an individual is criminal, extreme and has no faith or no values. There are those that will use this tragedy to try to divide us. But we must not allow that.”

Jaime Nabozny of Brooklyn Park came to the vigil with his husband.

“It was pretty amazing to see our community come together. To see every faith represented, to see every race represented here, and everyone coming together to say we’re with you.”