Hundreds Stand Against Hatred In Wake Of Orlando Shootings

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Loring Park vigil for Orlando shooting victims

Bill Sorem

Loring Park vigil for Orlando shooting victims

Love will triumph over hate. That was the message from LGBT leaders, Muslim leaders, and Governor Mark Dayton Sunday night in the wake of the nation’s worst ever mass shooting in Orlando.

More than a thousand people streamed into Minneaplis’ Loring Park – driven by a need to be with others after such a senseless massive tragedy, a need to offer prayers, and a need to find an answer to the nation’s mounting gun violence problem.

50 people, including the gunman were killed in the early Sunday morning shootings in a gay bar. 53 others were injured. The gunman, New York native Omar Mateen , claimed he did the killings in the name of the terrorist group ISIS.

“The words fail at a time like this,” Dayton told the crowd. “They seem so futile and so inadequate. But (Senator) Scott (Dibble) said it very well. The beast who massacred these innocent people was not acting on behalf of any political cause. He beat his wife. He massacred 50 innocent people, maybe more. If there is a God, if there is an Allah, he will never find out because he’s going to be doomed to eternal damnation for what he did to humanity, what he did to all of you in the LGBTQ community and what he did to all of us as Americans who live together, who share our lives together.”

“On behalf of Minnesota, our deepest condolences. And love will triumph over hate, but it doesn’t every time. And there’s no way to get around it, that was hate. That was hate acting and we got to kick it out of this country.”

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman echoed Dayton’s sentiments. “For all of you that are afraid tonight. For all of you that are reeling from this disaster this morning and the tragedy of what unfolded in Florida, it is important that we stand together. I think all of us here are at a loss for the right words. And that’s been said. But there are no words that could be as powerful as the sight that I see of all of us standing here together, in solidarity, in unity, straight and gay, Muslim and Christian, old and young, all of us saying we will stand up against hatred and violence.”

“Minnesota Muslims condemn in the strongest possible terms the mass shooting in Orlando,” said Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed or injured”

The Muslim community has been under attack, notably from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who Sunday reiterated that Muslims should temporarily not be allowed to enter the United States. The Orlando gunman was born in the United States. Hussein said the LGBTQ community has stood side by side with the American Muslim community.

Queer and Muslim Candidates Stand Together

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My name is Erin Maye-Quade and I’m a candidate for state house in Apple Valley – 57A. And I am a queer woman.

My name is Ilhan Omar. I’m a candidate for state representative in district 60B and I’m Muslim.

Hand in hand we move forward together.

This is what our country is all about. Love prevails.

Fighting discrimination and fear bonded people of all faiths and sexual orientations in the crowd. “Having a vigil tonight and really just wanting to bring people together after this heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Orlando,” said Outfront Minnesota Executive Director Monica Meyer. “And we really want to bring people together because we know how horrible that is to feel isolated and be mourning by yourself and we can come together and do what we do best which is stand up for love, stand up for a Minnesota that we believe in and one that really affirms all people and also speak out against any kind of discrimination or violence.”

Security at Twin Cities Pride a concern

Loring Park where the vigil took place is the site of Twin Cities Pride Fest, the largest gay pride festival in Minnesota and one of the largest in the nation. The festival is scheduled to start in about two weeks and organizers are working to take extra security precautions.

“It’s on my mind but I think we an extremely good police force in Minneapolis and I think we will be OK,” said one of the people at Sunday night’s vigil.

A woman made it clear the shooting would have no impact on her plans. “I’m coming to pride and I’m not worrying about it.” While LGBTQ people were the targeted this time she said “all of us are at risk. And we all need to show up when ever it happens.”

Calls for action

Earlier in the day President Obama said “This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Those gathered in Loring Park want action.

Congress needs to act said one LGBT community member. “We’re still living without the reauthorization of the original Brady bill. If I recall they let it lapse. So they’re blindly not doing anything with anything.” A provision of the Brady law passed in 1994 included a ten year ban on the manufacture of assault weapons for civilian use. The ban expired in 2004.

“We can’t keep just condemning this kind of violence without doing something to stop the amount of people who have so many guns,” said Outfront’s Meyer. But she saw there are other things that also need to be done.

“I think we got to spread love. And we have to .. I think about it from Outfront Minnesota’s perspective, we want our state to be a place where you can be who you are, love who you love and not face any kind of violence, harassment or isolation or discrimination.”

“I’m just incredibly sad I’m just terribly sad,” said another man. “The last time I was here for a candlelight vigil was for (kidnap victim) Jacob Wetterling. And this… I don’t know. This feels kind of like my personal 9/11. I’m just confused.”

Additional video of vigil

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Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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