Pulse: One Year Later

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

By: Ashmar Mandou

On the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12th of last year, hundreds held a vigil in remembrance of those who were killed on Monday outside of Center on Halsted. “We mourn the victims of the shooting in the Orlando nightclub Pulse, a popular gay venue,” Equality Illinois said in a statement. “While we don’t know yet the motive of the shooter, we do know we should all feel safe in our homes, schools and places of business and entertainment. Our hearts go out to the Orlando LGBT community and the family and friends of the victims, and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Scores of people attended the gathering filling the center’s lobby, spilling out onto the street where they had the opportunity to hear speakers, such as Aldermen Tom Tunney and Raymond Lopez. Lopez reminded the audience that the Orlando shootings were a “double hate-crime,” since so many of the victims were Latino LGBTs. “To my Latino brothers and sisters, not only in Orlando, but in Chicago and throughout the entire country, let me remind you not to let our culture fall prey to this hatred,” Lopez said. “Our culture is built on faith and family, compassion and caring, and no amount of bullets, no amount of hateful words, and no amount of bigotry will ever set our community—our heritage—backwards.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was also in attendance, addressed the crowd. “Let the entire city in this month of gay pride come together as one city around a shared common sense of tolerance and inclusion. Where everybody is comfortable. Everybody has something to contribute. Our power is to respond to what happened with hope, by showing the entire country a sense of what a community that comes together shares, a common set of values, and a common sense of who we are. Do not leave room for hate. Open our hearts for love.” Last year, gunmen Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse Orlando killing 50 people.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle reflected, “Sadly, this will not be the last attack on our fellow Americans here at home, but those who contemplate future attacks should know that the violence that they perpetrate only deepens our resolve to fight the hatred and intolerance that terrorism represents.” Sol Flores, executive director of La Casa Norte, which provides services for youth experiencing homelessness, and Terry, who takes part in the Center’s Youth Program (and whose last name was not given), reminded the audience that most of the victims in Orlando were young people in their 20s and 30s. “When I started this work, I vowed to make sure that every corner of this city was safe for young people to be their best and true selves, from Humboldt Park to Lake View, from Back of the Yards to Roger Park,” said Flores.

Center on Halsted is a community center dedicated to building and strengthening the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community.

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