Sunset Park mourned the 49 victims of the mass shooting in Orlando with a silent march and vigil on Wednesday, June 15.
Residents, elected officials, religious community members and officers from the 72nd Precinct marched with candles and American, Puerto Rican and LGBT pride flags in hand from Trinity Lutheran Church, 411 46th Street, to the flagpole in Sunset Park.
Many of the attendees described the largest mass shooting in United States history as a personal attack.
“This march means a lot to me as a 24-year gay male,” said Raymond Rodriguez. “I put myself in that position. It could have been me going out to have a good time and losing my life so we have to march for those who can’t be here with us. We fear for our lives, but we can’t give into that.”
“A lot of the victims were Latinos,” added former Assemblymember Javier Nieves. “As Latinos in Sunset Park, our hearts are heavy and we’re saddened by the hatred that is coming to the surface in this country.”
“For me, it’s personal because I am Latino, I am gay, and for me, this has been a tragedy that shakes the core of who I am as a person,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “All of us need a sense of community right now and that’s what we’re here to do. “
Once the dozens of attendees reached the flagpole, religious leaders led prayers. Nieves read the name and age of each victim.
“It’s very meaningful. Sunset Park is a great community, but quite often you don’t see people coming out and expressing their political and ideological perspective and beliefs,” said Reverend Samuel Cruz of Trinity Lutheran Church. “This massacre has caused many of us to unite to show our support for the LGBT community and anti-violence work which we need to do more of in our society.”
El Grito de Sunset Park, Trinity Lutheran and the 72nd Precinct helped organized the well-attended event. “We have to be in solidarity and support. An attack on one is an attack on all ,” said Dennis Flores, founder of El Grito. “It’s important that the LGBT voice be heard, and ours is in solidarity with them and letting them take the lead and letting them know that we’re here for them.”
“I’m very proud of the Sunset Park community and the way they came together in a show of support during a period of national mourning,” added Captain of the 72nd Precinct Emmanuel Gonzalez. “It is incredible that all these people came together for this event.”