Angel-winged mourners surrounded Pulse nightclub in the early hours this morning to remember those lost in last year's shooting. Today, June 12 marks the anniversary of the massacre in Orlando, and the city is paying tribute to the victims. An estimated 1,000 people gathered outside of LGBTQ nightclub to honor those taken. A private ceremony was also held at the nightclub for the survivors and the family members of the deceased.
A year ago, 49 lives were taken in the worse mass shooting in American history. Ninety percent of those killed were of the Latinx community, and 53 additional people were injured in the shooting. The shooter, who declared his support for ISIL, was killed after a three-hour standoff with police officers.
"What happened at Pulse was the darkest day in our city's history, and we continue to grieve for the victims and fight for those who are still suffering," Patty Sheehan, the openly gay Orlando City Commissioner, said this spring. "This June 12, our entire LGBTQ community and our allies need to stand together and continue to show that we are a strong, united city that responds with love."
(From Left) Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse, Patty Sheehan, city commissioner & Regina Hill, city commissioner (Joe Burbank/AP)
June 12 has been officially recognized by the city of Orlando as Orlando United Day - A Day of Love and Kindness. At noon, another memorial service was held at Pulse, and church bells rang 49 times in remembrance of the 49 people that lost their lives. An exhibit of artwork from various memorial sites will also be on display at the Orange County History Center.
This evening, local musicians and artists will hold the Orlando Love concert in Lake Eola Park. Among the contributors are the Orlando Gay Chorus, Olga Tanon, The Voice singer Sisaundra Lewis, and the Orlando Firefighters Pipes and Drums. Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma and mayor Buddy Dyer are also scheduled to speak.
Barbara Poma plans to convert Pulse into a memorial and museum. The nonprofit onePulse Foundation has been established to oversee the funds, construction, and upkeep for the memorial. The organization also will give community grants to help the survivors and the victims' families. Scholarships will also be issued to remember those lost on June 12.
"This must and will be a healing initiative, one that I believe will inspire supporters who share our vision and understand the sacred responsibility to which we have been entrusted," Poma said during a press conference in May.
Orlando United Day - A Day of Love and Kindness will conclude with a service at the night club.