SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco held one of the many vigils around the world this week to stand in solidarity and support of the 49 victims that were killed in the Orlando, Florida, at the Pulse nightclub on Sunday, June 12.
The shooter was Omar Mateen, 29, from Fort Piece, FL, who entered Pulse, Orlando’s premiere gay nightclub, at approximately 2 a.m. and opened fire using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle; rendering 49 dead, not including the shooter, and 53 wounded – the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Law enforcement officials believe the shooting was a direct attack on the gay community with potential terrorist ties. Mateen allegedly expressed his allegiance to the Islamic State and died in a shootout with police, as he attempted to escape the club.
City officials and residents gathered in the Bay Area’s Harvey Milk Plaza for a vigil, that was scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Sunday in wake of the tragedy.
City supervisor Scott Weiner announced the vigil early Sunday morning via Twitter writing: “Join us for a vigil tonight at 8 pm at Harvey Milk Plaza to mourn, honor, and remember the #PulseNightclub victims and to recommit ourselves to the fight for peace and #LGBT equality.”
In the Castro District, between Castro and 18th Streets, the thousands of attendees waved banners, lit iPhones, and candles, while the neighborhood’s 30-foot rainbow Pride flag hung at half-mast.
City, community, and LGBT leaders spoke out at the vigil, advocating for love, equality, and gun control, like San Francisco Supervisor David Camps and State Senator Mark Leno.
Mourners tied notes of condolence to railings and joined the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in singing. The vigil sparked an impromptu march towards City Hall, where thousands walked side-by-side to honor the victims in Orlando.
San Francisco’s Mayor Edwin M. Lee said in a statement, “This is a stark reminder that violence still threatens our LGBT community. Senseless acts of violence against innocents, fueled by hate and easy access to deadly firearms, have become all-too frequent. We must continue to work each day to reduce gun violence and ensure every community is safe.”