Cville Pride holds candlelight vigil for victims of Orlando shooting

In the early hours of Sunday, June 12, a gunman opened fire in the Orlando, Florida LGBT nightclub, Pulse, killing 49 people and injuring 53 others. The massacre is the worst mass shooting in United States history, and the largest terrorist attack in the nation since 9/11. Across the country, LGBT communities and their allies have been mourning the loss of life. Here in Charlottesville, local advocacy group Cville Pride held a candlelight vigil the Monday after the shooting. WTJU’s Robert Packard was at the vigil and files this report.

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Hundreds gathered on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall Monday night for a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of the massacre at the Pulse LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman took the lives of 49 people and injured 53 others. The vigil was organized by Cville Pride and began with a rally at the Free Speech Wall..

Amy Sarah Marshall, the president of Cville Pride, led the event and spoke emotionally about the fear the LGBT community is experiencing in the wake of the tragedy.

“Love is not just for when it’s happy, it’s for these times as well. I am challenged when people talking about ‘love is love’ and ‘love overcomes everything’ and ‘don’t be afraid because then the terrorists win’ because I’m not going to lie, it’s really scary. This is scary stuff,” Marshall said. “And this happened to fifty families. They’re not just going to, like, get over it tomorrow. And I don’t want us to get over it. I want us to know this fear. Not live in it, not stay in it, but I want us to realize that this is a real fear.”

Throughout the night, the theme of courage kept coming up.

“How many of us here are willing to be courageous enough to take a stand and say that no matter who you are, you deserve to be respected?” Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy asked the crowd. “How many of us are willing to do that?”

During Bellamy’s speech, he invited fellow city councilor Kristin Szakos to announce an action she’ll be taking next week.

“She will be be asking city council at our next council meeting to adopt a resolution to ask statewide legislation to put a ban or have some kind of gun control and further those limits,” Bellamy explained. “But we need individuals like you all to stand with her and encourage the rest of council to follow suit. Who has the courage to do just that?”

After the speakers finished, a shared flame was used to light the candles and, as a bagpipe played, those in attendance marched quietly to the other end of the mall, ending at the Federal Courthouse Building.

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