Candlelight vigil for Orlando draws 2,000 to Downtown Pittsburgh
June 14, 2016 12:00 AM
People attend a vigil at the City-County Building for those killed in the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting. Attendees hold a flag representing the LGBT+ community.
Naomi Miller, left, and Autumn Secrest of Swissvale were among those who attended a vigil on Monday at the City-County Building in Downtown for those killed in the Orlando shooting early Sunday morning.
Francesca Fello of Penn Hills, Hope Kay of the North Hills and Bailey Hartge of Oakland comfort each other.
Meagan Lopata of Etna holds a sign.
Many people attended the vigil.
By Dan Majors / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
More than 2,000 members of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community and their supporters gathered for a candlelight vigil on Grant Street outside the City-County Building on Monday evening to mourn the victims of the weekend massacre in Orlando.
Nearly a dozen speakers, including Mayor Bill Peduto and local religious leaders, addressed the crowd, which stood around a giant rainbow banner for the hour-long ceremony organized by the Pittsburgh Clergy Consortium.
They bowed their heads in prayer and raised their voices in song as they vowed to see love overcome the hatred that led to the killing of 49 people and the wounding of another 53 in a gay nightclub early Sunday morning.
“We’re here for any community that is impacted by violence, any community that is impacted by hate,” said La’Tasha D. Mayes, executive director of New Voices Pittsburgh. “We have to remember we’re all in this together.”
“This is about solidarity,” Mr. Peduto said. “All problems have solutions. ... And the answers will be found by those who spread love.”
Safdar Khwaja, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Pittsburgh chapter, was warmly received as he denounced the hate crime committed by a man who professed to be a follower of Islam, saying his religion does not accept “the taking of a single life.”
“Those who abuse these rights do not belong in our society,” he said. “We stand in solidarity with you. Faith cannot be allowed to be subverted.”
The remarks were followed by the somber reading of the excruciatingly long list of victims’ names.
“I am angry,” said Steve Gilson, an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh. “But I’m comforted here. We are still here. ... Our community is defined by its relentless optimism and perseverance. Our voices will not be silenced by fear.”
Dan Majors: firstname.lastname@example.org and 412-263-1456.