Tallahassee vigil for LGBTQIA people killed at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub
Tallahassee, FL – On June 14, close to 200 people gathered on the steps of the Old Capitol to honor the LGBTQIA people killed and wounded in a vicious homophobic attack at Pulse nightclub on June 12.
Omar Mateen shot dozens of people in the club, murdering 49 and injuring more than 50. The massacre occurred on the club’s Latin Night that features talent from transgender women. Despite the claims by the corporate media, Mateen was not a practicing Muslim. Additionally, his ex-wife claimed he was abusive and his co-workers described him as dangerous.
The vigil featured campus and community religious leaders, as well as speakers from several student organizations, including Florida State Pride, the Florida State University Muslim Student Association, and the Florida A&M University Dream Defenders.
Between speeches, musicians performed, and the large crowd chanted, “The people united will never be defeated!” and “When Queer folks are under attack, what we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Participants held signs that read, “Queer liberation” and a banner that read, “Blame homophobia not Islam.” At the end of the vigil, the crowd lit candles as the names of the 49 people killed in the shooting were read during a moment of silence. Flowers and candles were placed on top of a rainbow pride flag.
Lakey L, the FSU graduate assistant who hosted the vigil said, “Today, I want to grieve but I also want to fight back. Our rally was under-reported by the mainstream media. Not because we didn't tell them about it, but because most of them are owned by corporate America which cannot abide solidarity between queer, Muslim and Black and brown people”
Katherine Draken spoke for Students for a Democratic Society, “Right-wing politicians are on Twitter pretending to mourn, to say, ‘Oh, I'm so sad about this.’ But they are the ones who are to blame. They are the ones who block bills that are meant to protect queer and trans people. They push out propaganda meant to deny trans people their rights. They are the ones who fear-monger and try to start wars that end up killing more and more innocent Muslims abroad.”
It’s becoming clearer that Omar Mateen committed these murders due to intense homophobia rather than religious extremism. Already politicians like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have began to beat the war drums and called for ramped up attacks in the Middle East – despite the fact that Mateen had no confirmed ties to ISIS. Mateen was a G4S employee, a private security firm utilized in the occupied Palestinian territories and prisons in the U.S.