Thousands of people gathered on the lawns of Dr Phillips Performing Arts Center near Orlando city hall on 13 June at 7pm local time to remember the victims of the Pulse gay night club shooting. The vigil that lasted for nearly two hours was arranged by Equity Florida, a civil rights organisation that represents the state's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.
Mourners came with dozens of flower bouquets, hand written tributes, candles, balloons, American and LGBT flags. As names of each of the victims were read out aloud, a church bell across the street rang 49 times. According to reports, the speakers at the ceremony spoke in both English and Spanish, reflecting the fact that many of the victims were Latino and urged the LGBT community to not give in to fear.
Jimbo Wood, 27, told Orlando Sentinel, "This is my therapy for the day, I didn't want to just sit at home and mope. To have busy hands has helped."
Another one said, "We have hugs for those who need it. Hatred, bigotry and intolerance are our common enemies."
"Hearing these names echo off these buildings, it's hitting me even harder today," Nadine Smith of Equality Florida, said. "I find myself awash in anger, sadness – and also in pride."
The owners of the Pulse gay night club took to the stage and said, "We are not leaving. We are here to stay. We will be bigger and better than you can imagine."
Equality Florida policy and outreach coordinator Hannah Willard was quoted by a local news channel as saying, "We are here today to, quite simply, mourn those that we have lost. This was an unspeakable tragedy. Nobody saw this coming. This has shaken our community to its very core - especially because it happened in a traditionally safe space for gay and transgender people."
Since 2014, murders of people belonging to the LGBT community as well as those affected by HIV in the United States have gone up by 20%, according to a report released by National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs (NCAVP).