NYAPRS Note: Activists are joining with people of heart from across the world in grieving Sunday’s horrific murders of LGBTQI individuals in Orlando. Please see the photo below to feel both the anguish and resolve of those who joined yesterday’s vigil at the Stonewall Inn, the gay bar that became known as the birthplace of gay rights in the late 1960s.
Among this week’s tragic lessons: we must take assault weapons off the street in this country and we must stand with the LGBTQI community to mourn this savage attack on their community, as we well know what it’s like to be a vilified, criminalized and victimized community.
I believe you’ll be inspired into action by Ken Kidd’s passionate speech outside Stonewall https://www.facebook.com/jgbonelli/videos/10153648474742113/ and outraged by the inaction of the following 50 Senators to approve expanded background checks http://hyperationalist.com/guns/50-senators-50-victims
New York Leaders Call for Gun Control At Stonewall Vigil
By Laura Nahmias PoliticoNY June 14, 2016
Gun control dominated the conversation Monday evening at a vigil in New York City's West Village to honor the 49 people who died in a mass shooting Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Thousands of people gathered at the intersection of Waverly and Christopher Streets in the West Village for the quickly arranged vigil, where a host of LGBT activist leaders, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" star Tituss Burgess, Jonas Brother Nick Jonas, and former allies Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio all spoke of New York's support for gay and lesbian New Yorkers, and the need for tighter restrictions on the ability to purchase guns.
The location for the vigil was chosen for its significance to the LGBT community in New York - a stone's throw from the landmark Stonewall Inn, the gay bar that became known as the birthplace of gay rights in the late 1960s. Many of the 49 dead, and 53 wounded by the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, in the Sunday morning attack were LGBT attendees at an Orlando nightclub, Pulse.
Cuomo was the first politician to speak.
"How many people have to die before this federal government comes to its senses?" the governor said, in a soaring speech on an issue he has embraced as governor.
Following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he pushed for the passage of a suite of new gun control laws known as the SAFE Act, drawing sustained criticism from Republicans. Last year, one of his economic development aides, Carey Gabay, was killed by a stray bullet in the pre-dawn hours before the city's annual West Indian Day parade.
From a platform looking out on the crowd, Cuomo called for federal lawmakers to pass new gun control restrictions, pointing to his own work as an example for how to proceed.
"We passed gun control in this state. We outlawed assault weapons in this state. We know it can be done. We know it can be done," he said.
"We know it's controversial. We know it takes political courage, but we're saying to our federal government, we want that political courage shown, and don't you come home until you pass sensible gun control, and it stops now," he said, to cheers and applause.
"It does us no good as a state, to outlaw an assault weapon, when someone can get into the car and drive three hours to another state, and buy it and drive it over our border. Until we have a national policy, none of us is safe," Cuomo said.
Mayor de Blasio, who spoke well after Cuomo had already given his address to the crowd and left, also called for Congress to act on new gun control restrictions. De Blasio took aim also at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who earlier Monday criticized de Blasio for ending a program of Muslim surveillance by the NYPD, and who reiterated calls for a temporary ban on immigration to the U.S. by Muslims, in response to the threat of terrorism.
"We believe in inclusion. We believe in a society filled with unity and embrace of all peoples. We do not accept anyone who would sow division or hatred. We do not accept the notion of any of our leaders sowing hatred and division, particularly in the wake of tragedy - and that means you, Donald Trump," de Blasio said.
De Blasio's wife Chirlane McCray also laid responsibility for the attacks at the feet of gun manufacturers and federal lawmakers.
"The killer alone bears the ultimate responsibility for this heinous act, but make no mistake about it - Omar Mateen had many enablers. he was enabled by a gun industry that values profits more than people, and all the lawmakers who are beholden to their blood-stained dollars," McCray said.
In response to the Orlando attack, de Blasio on Sunday ordered increased police presence and security at LGBT landmarks around the city, including outside of the Stonewall Inn, where Monday night's vigil was held. But there were signs the increased police presence was not welcome. While de Blasio spoke to the crowd, he struggled to make himself heard over attendees chanting "End Police Brutality!"
And when de Blasio's police commissioner Bill Bratton took the microphone to address the crowd, he was the object of sustained booing so loud he struggled to make himself heard.
De Blasio sought to emphasize the city's safety, and to promise the crowd that the city's Police Department would protect them.
Both he and Cuomo urged New Yorkers and even out-of-staters to make the trek to New York City next week for the annual Gay Pride parade.
"Let's pledge tonight to have the largest Pride Parade in history," Cuomo shouted to the crowd, who answered with a resounding cheer.
That call was echoed by de Blasio, who said, "I say this to people all over the United States tonight. Come to New York for the pride parade.
Come join us. Come join us in solidarity with people all over this country. It will be safe, and we will protect each other."
Link for photo below: https://twitter.com/Jill_Jorgensen/status/742518182443880449/photo/1