"I can say unequivocally this," Governor Jay Inslee told a crowd gathered in Cal Anderson Park last night. "There are 7 million Washington hearts in Orlando tonight."
People filled the Capitol Hill park named after Washington's first openly gay legislator to honor the victims of yesterday's mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando. Elected leaders and activists urged hope, and some members of the crowd wept as they counted aloud to 50 to memorialize the dead. Yesterday, police said 50 people were killed in the club. This morning, they say the shooter killed 49 people and injured another 53 before killing himself.
"Hate and fear destroys," Equal Rights Washington Chair Monisha Harrell said during last night's vigil in Seattle. "Only love can bring peace, and look at this loving crowd we have gathered here today."
More than a thousand people gathered in the park as night approached, lighting candles and embracing each other. A choir sang "We Shall Overcome." Kelly O
"I am Muslim, I am queer, and I exist," Speaker Sonja Basha told the crowd. "Violence does not represent us." Kelly O
Ed Murray, Seattle's first openly gay mayor, urged the LGBTQ community to resist giving into despair. “To young people in particular," Murray said, "I urge you, despite this tragedy, not to give in to the sense that nothing can be done. Instead, I ask you to engage like never before. Our community looks to you, our young people, more than ever, to build on the gains that we’ve made and to offer a future based on hope." Kelly O
"The LGBTQ community and the Muslim family are not separate," Basha told the crowd. "We mourn together." Kelly O
The shooting in Orlando was the deadliest in modern American history. Kelly O
At the beginning and end of the vigil, members of the crowd made signs expressing solidarity and calling for peace, love, and gun control Kelly O
Some carried "No on 1515" signs. Initiative 1515 would reverse a state rule allowing trans people to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Kelly O
Seattle's Pride celebration is June 26 and Trans* Pride Seattle will be held on June 24. Mayor Ed Murray has pledged increased security for those events. "This city will do all we can in free society to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring in our community," he said at the vigil. Kelly O