NEW YORK – Officials and residents came together in Manhattan on Monday night to pay homage to the men and women who died and were hurt when a gunman opened fire Sunday morning at an Orlando gay nightclub.
Thousands lit up New York’s West Village, holding aloft banners that said “We are Orlando,” waving rainbow flags and chanting “say their names.” Remembering the 49 victims who lost their lives in the massacre, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the crowd chanted: “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now.”
People gathered near the Stonewall Inn, which is the site of riots in 1969 after a police raid that is considered a bellwether in the battle for gay and lesbian rights.
During Monday’s vigil, Mayor Bill de Blasio cited the example of Enrique Rios, a social worker from Brooklyn who died in the attack. Rios was vacationing in Orlando at the time of the shooting, his mother, Gertrude Merced, has said.
“We lost a good young man from Brooklyn,a caring and loving young man who was already serving others,” de Blasio said. “He was attending nursing school, while working with our senior citizens as a social worker. This is the kind of good human being we lost in Orlando, someone with a life ahead and making this world a better place.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo chimed in on the central topic of the night: gun control.
“Until we have a national policy, none of us are safe,” Cuomo said. “This is an American curse, this is not an international curse.”
New York City first lady Chirlane McCray and City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez also attended the gathering.