In the wake of the mass shooting that resulted in the murder of 50 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick promised that the city would take extra steps to ensure a repeat did not occur at the upcoming Stonewall festival on June 18.
He said that the city had been working with the FBI and BSO “long before” the shooting but that more would be done in the days to come.
“We cannot allow that kind of hatred. [The shooter] lived in Fort Pierce. He could have come anywhere in Florida – one of our bars,” Resnick said. More details, he said, would be released later in the week.
Resnick pledged more would be done Sunday night at the vigil, held at The Pride Center in Wilton Manors, for the victims who died at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12.
“Today, we are all LGBT. All of us,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who said the country must remain vigilant and focused in the face of terrorism. Wasserman Schultz was joined by other local, county, state and Congressional leaders, including Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and Congressman Ted Deutch. Israel echoed Wasserman Schultz and vowed to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of violent criminals. “If you see something, say something.”
Terry Stone, CEO of CenterLink, an organization that supports LGBT community centers across the country, asked the crowd to shout out the word most on their mind. “Love” was the overwhelming response.
Kristofer Fegenbush, chief operations officer of The Pride Center, said the LGBT community was “pissed off” and grieving. “But we are not bowed,” he said to unanimous applause. “We will not be shaken.” Fegenbush also called for love to be used in response to hate. He wasn’t the last.
Rabbi Noah Kitty of Congregation Etz Chaim said the response to the event was a show of faith, even for those who aren’t religious. “It takes a deep sense of faith to believe in yourself . . . against all the hatred and ugliness.”
Wilfredo Ruiz, communications director for the Council of American Islamic Relations, said the Muslim community’s “deepest sorrow” was with the victims and their families. “Today, we are all in grief. These acts do not belong to our religion. It is Muhammad Ali that represents us. [Not this shooter]. God bless the United States.”
Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis challenged Muslim leaders to go back to their communities and become better advocates against violence. “I’m not ready to forgive. It could have been me. It could have been you,” he said, pointing to the crowd. He also challenged the crowd to become more involved in their communities and oppose the type of ideas and hatred that lead to violence. “Silence equals death.”