Thousands expected at vigils around US for Orlando victims

Vigils, rallies and marches are being held around the country Monday and later this week for the victims of the deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Police in many areas have promised heightened security for the events, which come during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

Some of the events:



Thousands crowded the streets around the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan where large-scale gay rights activism got its start in 1969.

Under banners heralding the upcoming Pride Week event, people held hands and hugged. Some waved rainbow flags and others carried signs showing support for Orlando as they listened to a slew of elected officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Spectators watched from fire escapes and windows of nearby apartment buildings as chants of “love beats hate” rang from the crowd.

At the end of the vigil, attendees held candles and some sobbed as the names of the victims were recited. Each name was met with the Spanish cry of “Presente!” from the crowd.

Thomas Dougherty, 23, of Manhattan, said he came to the rally to feel united and connected.

He said he had friends in Orlando who ordinarily could have been at Pulse and he spent a frantic Sunday tracking them down to make sure they were all OK.

“Seeing everyone here makes me feel at home, makes me feel safe,” he said.



In the city where the shooting happened, thousands of people gathered Monday evening for a vigil to support victims and survivors.

Many in the crowd in downtown Orlando said they were inspired to attend because the Pulse nightclub, where the massacre occurred, played a huge role in their lives as gays and lesbians.

“Pulse gave me confidence, made me realize I was normal and so much like everyone else,” said Cathleen Daus, a former employee at the club.

The vigil was held on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips Center, the area’s main performing arts venue. It’s also the location of a makeshift memorial, where people have been leaving flowers, candles and notes for the victims.

Several other Florida communities large and small also have events planned. In Miami, a gay community center offered grief counseling through Monday afternoon, with a prayer gathering and a town hall-style meeting planned for the evening.



The rainbow colors of the gay pride flag flew Monday on the side of the California Capitol and on the floor of the Senate — a first for the Senate, according to President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Democrat.

In Southern California, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has organized a rally and vigil outside City Hall on Monday evening, one of a number of events around the state.

In San Francisco, home to one of the nation’s largest gay communities, police said more officers would be patrolling popular LGBT venues and local mosques in the weeks ahead. The city’s gay pride celebration and parade are set for June 25 and 26.

Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro District on the city Board of Supervisors, said he intends to host a meeting this week to involve owners of gay nightclubs, bars and restaurants in planning discussions with police.

Tim Eicher, who co-owns four bars in the Castro, said he and the owners of other LGBT venues “are doing everything possible to ensure that we keep our employees and customers safe.”



Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday marched with hundreds of people during an event in Vermont honoring victims of the Orlando mass shooting.

Sanders and his wife, Jane, participated in the march in downtown Burlington that ended at City Hall Park. Sanders spoke briefly, encouraging the crowd to help “create the kind of nation based on love that we all know we can become.”

The Pride Center of Vermont organized the march and vigil.



A candlelight vigil is planned Monday night outside a gay nightclub in Providence, followed by a march to the Statehouse steps.

With other vigils and memorials also scheduled around the state Monday and Tuesday — and the Rhode Island Pride Festival expected to draw 40,000 people Saturday in Providence — police are planning to provide more officers, dogs and other security measures for the events.

The head of the state police and members of the Providence Police Department met Monday with Pride Festival organizers and the owners of several gay bars.

“They are nervous, like any other community that was targeted for violence,” State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O’Donnell said.



The Alaska House of Representatives stood for a moment of silence Monday to honor the Orlando victims, at the request of Rep. Matt Claman, a Democrat. The Senate doesn’t have a floor session scheduled until Thursday.



Vigils are planned around the state Monday, with one of the biggest in Denver’s Cheesman Park. Meanwhile, organizers of Denver’s PrideFest say next weekend’s festival will go ahead with tight security, including metal detectors and fences.



More than two dozen human rights organizations have announced plans for a vigil and community gathering Tuesday night at Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. The groups include gay rights organizations, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta and the Anti-Defamation League.



A vigil is planned Monday evening in Sandpoint, a small lakefront town in the north of the state, among other events this week. Chelsea Gaona Lincoln, an LGBT-rights activist who helped organize the vigils, urged the public to help protect the rights of Idaho’s gay community.

Organizers of the ongoing Boise Pridefest, Idaho’s largest LGBT pride event, met with police Monday to talk security details and shift the route of the event’s upcoming parade away from the heart of downtown, for safety’s sake.

On Sunday, just hours after learning of the Florida shooting, Pridefest organizers fielded an intimidating comment on the event’s Facebook page, director Rodney Busbee said. Organizers immediately reported the remark to authorities, Busbee said.

“In the past, I’ve had people text me or post that that they were going to kill me,” Busbee said. “But that became a reality over the weekend.”



Gov. John Bel Edwards described the Orlando shooting victims as “our brothers and sisters” during a vigil Monday with Louisiana’s legislative leaders at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. The Democratic governor and dozens of other politicians sang “Amazing Grace” together, and Edwards read a Bible passage.

“There is no room for terror and hate,” he said.



At least nine Maine communities are holding vigils to honor victims in the attack on a nightclub in Florida.

Matt Moonen, executive director of EqualityMaine, said the events Monday evening “will enable us to come together to mourn those lost in Orlando.”

Vigils were planned in Portland, Bangor, Auburn, Bar Harbor, Damariscotta, Hallowell, Farmington, Ellsworth and Machias. More are scheduled for later in the week.



Hundreds of people gathered Monday night in Boston to pay tribute to the victims of the mass shooting.

Many of them carried rainbow-colored flags and signs calling for peace. At times they held and comforted each other. Speakers addressed the crowd in both English and Spanish.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Gov. Charlie Baker attended the candlelight vigil at City Hall Plaza, which was organized by Walsh’s office.



Advocacy groups were organizing a vigil Monday evening at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The organizations included advocates for immigrant students, LGBT people and survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence.



Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales announced plans for a public event honoring the shooting victims Monday on the Santa Fe Plaza, the landmark square that has served as the capital city’s central gathering spot for hundreds of years. A vigil also is planned in a park in Farmington, a mid-sized city near the Colorado border.



Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley plans to attend a Monday night vigil at a downtown nightclub. Cranley, a Democrat, says he’s proud to stand in solidarity with LGBT people “and to let the world know that Cincinnati is an inclusive and welcoming city.”



The Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland was being illuminated in rainbow colors Monday night. The bridge featured a similar display last year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

The rainbow colors had already been slated to return for the city’s annual Pride weekend, which starts Friday.



Philadelphia’s LGBT community is organizing an early evening vigil Monday outside City Hall in what organizers describe as an outpouring of “grief, love and solidarity for the victims in Orlando.”

An evening march also is planned in the state capital, Harrisburg.

A Wednesday night vigil is planned in front of the Delaware County Courthouse in Media, organized by a local Unitarian Universalist church and a group pushing gun regulations.



A Muslim-American women’s group is planning a candlelight vigil Monday night in Dupont Circle, the hub of a neighborhood near downtown. Organizers say the goal is to stand together against anti-gay, anti-transgender and anti-Muslim bias.