Tributes for Victims of Orlando Nightclub Shooting Pour in on One-Year Anniversary of the Attack
One year after the heartbreak, Orlando residents are coming together for a solemn day of remembrance.
On June 12, 2016, a gunman entered the popular gay-friendly club Pulse armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. Omar Mateen, an ISIS sympathizer, murdered 49 innocent people and injured dozens more in the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
A memorial service for survivors, victims’ families and local officials was held at Pulse early Monday, according to News 6. Just after 1 a.m., people dressed as angels — who last year protected mourning family and friends from anti-gay hecklers from the Westboro Baptist Church — held candles as they walked through the parking lot and circled the nightclub.
At 2:02 a.m., the moment when the gunfire started last year, loved ones read the names of each victim.
Pulse owner Barbara Poma told those in attendance, “We gather here today in the name of love.”
More services will be held throughout the city on Monday.
Last week, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer signed a proclamation declaring June 12 as “Orlando United Day — A Day of Love and Kindness.”
The official Twitter account for the city of Orlando shared a short video featuring a candle flickering in front of Pulse.
“One year later and every day. We #RememberThe49,” the caption read.
Police, LGBTQ advocates and others from around the globe also took to social media to honor the victims.
The onePulse Foundation, a nonprofit created by the owner of Pulse to raise scholarship money for survivors and turn the former nightclub into a permanent memorial, tweeted Friday, “Throughout the weekend the onePULSE Foundation will be paying tribute to each of the 49.”
Each of the organization’s subsequent posts featured a photo of one of the victims and the hashtag #WeWillNotLetHateWin.
George Takei’s gun violence prevention group, One Pulse for America, released an anniversary video featuring the Star Trek actor that remembers each victim by name and calls for a continued push for gun reform.
Takei, 80, founded One Pulse in the wake of the attack at the popular gay club.
“The Pulse shootings shook me to the core,” he recently told PEOPLE. “It brought the human cost of gun violence home for me.”
“After Pulse, I understood the cost to our freedoms as well, as our very right to assemble was under attack,” explains Takei, who is gay. “I knew we as a community had to respond.”