One year ago today, 49 people were killed in Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The city has planned a day of events to mourn the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Almost all those lost were LGBT people of color.
According to the Guardian, a group of local churches plan to ring their bells at noon 49 times, in memory of every person lost. There are four official services planned for mourners throughout the day, with one beginning in the early hours at Pulse at the same time that shooter Omar Mateen opened fire on club goers. Only survivors, local officials, and club employees are invited to this private event. A second one will be open to the public at midday.
WFTV9 reports that city officials are planning for thousands of people to attend a gathering on the edge of Lake Eola, where victims will be remembered by citizens and visitors in a vigil. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma are all expected to speak, and there is a planned musical tribute featuring the Orlando Gay Chorus. Then late in the evening, Pulse will be open to the public.
Though politicians have been labeling the anniversary “Orlando United Day” and calling it “A Day of Love and Kindness,” many survivors have told reporters that traveling to Pulse for events is difficult, if not impossible. ABC reports that early responder U.S. Army Sgt. Marie Cobbs was at Monday’s early morning ceremony, but unable to enter the club saying she was “too angry.”
“Like, how could this happen,” Cobbs continued. “This guy came to my home right here, and shot my brothers and sisters.”
Similarly, survivor Demetrice Naulings told the Guardian that he was planning to go to events, but seemed conflicted about what thoseevents might entail. Naulings escaped shortly after the shooting began, but lost his best friend.
“Seeing all of the other people from the club, I’m pretty sure the hugs will be teary. I’m not looking forward to that,” Naulings said. “I’m not looking for ‘I’m sorry.’ I feel like that doesn’t help me. I feel like that is pity and I don’t want pity.”
Another survivor, Richard Negron, told the Associated Press, “There’s going to be so many things going on that I feel it will be overwhelming for those affected.”