More than 10K attend Orlando vigil

1st citywide vigil hosted by Equality Orlando at the Dr. Phillips Arena

ORLANDO, Fla. – Three separate memorials grew overnight, hours after an undeniable spirit of strength, unity, and love filled downtown Orlando Monday night.

Flowers, candles, cards and more were placed at the memorials early Tuesday morning in front of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, in the middle of the plaza, and across the street from Orlando City Hall.

[MORE: Other vigils in area ]

This memorial outside the performing arts center grew even more overnight. People laid candles, wreaths and flowers through the early morning hours. #orlandostrong #orlandounited

Posted by Erik Sandoval - News 6 on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

 

"I have seen some horrible things in my city. I have also seen the power of love, and I'm looking at it right now," Commissioner Patty Sheehan said.

It was the first official citywide vigil, hosted by Equality Orlando at DPAC. Representatives from faith-based groups, city leaders and supporters all spoke of conquering hate.

"This whole community stands behind you, and we will stand in front of you, and we will stand beside you to fight for your right to be who you are," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

The grief was overwhelming for some as people hugged, cried,and held hands. Downtown became a place of healing, a place to remember the souls who have touched so many.

"Just seeing the numbers of people out here, they say there's strength in numbers. I got my strength back," an Orlando man said.

A minister from the Mother Emanuel church in Charleston also spoke. She told Orlando to stand together in unity with the rest of the country.

"The fact of the matter is, I need you, and you need me. We're all part of God's party. We need to stand together," she said.

The most exciting message came from the very people who escaped that horrific night. A promise from Pulse that they would not back down.

"We are here to stay. We will be bigger and better than you could ever imagine. We will not be defeated."

Pulse did not say when or where they would make plans to reopen.

RELATED: Community sings ‘We Shall Overcome' during Jacksonville vigil

People gathered with candles around Lake Eola Park last night to mourn those lost in the Orlando shootings. Vigils will be held around Florida today --> http://bit.ly/1PXhc6j

Posted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Monday, June 13, 2016

A candlelight vigil is also planned in Fort Myers for 7 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park.

Equality Florida posted a statement to its website about the tragedy:

"Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. June commemorates our community standing up to anti-LGBTQ violence at the Stonewall Inn, the nightclub (in New York City's Grenwich Village) that has become the first LGBTQ site recognized as a national monument."

Equality Florida also helped set up a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for the victims and families of the terror attack: https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund. In less than 24 hours, the fund had raised more than $1.3 million from more than 34,000 contributors.

"Funds raised on this page will be going directly to the victims and families affected by the horrific shooting at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub," the organization wrote on the donation page. "Equality Florida is working with local organizations -- who are also helping to raise funds -- to ensure the money is distributed properly. Thank you for the support!"

Another GoFundMe account was set up by community groups around Orlando: www.gofund.me/29bubytq. The page said 100 percent of the proceeds will go to victims and families affected by the tragedy. The fund had raised more than $185,000 in less than 24 hours.


About the Authors:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.