In the four days since a gunmen took the lives of 49 men and women in an Orlando gay club, large vigils and prayer meetings have been peacefully held all across the globe. As more and more information about the victims was released, two Brooklyn families had their worst nightmare confirmed, as they learned that Brooklyn natives lives were claimed in the gunfire. According a recent report, Brooklynites gathered Wednesday evening at the Grand Army Plaza to pay their respects.
The vigil garnered hundreds of locals as they gathered to watch the sun set and to share a moment of solitude. For some of the mourners, the opportunity to discuss their feelings in public was the first chance they have had to release a lot of strong emotions.
“It feels healing, but it’s also really painful to be here,” said Samantha Schoer, a former Park Slope resident.
The public space was filled with bright rainbow flags and various banners from Latin American countries, to represent the Latino victims whose lives were claimed. As the evening grew dark, mourners turned into concerned citizens as elected officials spoke to the crowd, demanding swift change.
“We cannot ignore that he supposedly had an assault-style rifle, weapons that are legal in the United States,” said Public Advocate Letitia James, who helped to organize the gathering.
Strangers became close confidants as they wiped away their tears to discuss their ideas regarding gun law reform and mental health awareness. While some attendees easily admitted to feeling a sense of anger regarding the Orlando shooting, the tone of the vigil called for peace and unity on a much larger scale.