Somber memorials on anniversary of Florida nightclub rampage

Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators introduced a resolution honouring the 49 people killed on Latin night

Three years after a gunman massacred 49 people and wounded many others at a gay nightclub in Florida, the anniversary was observed Wednesday with sombre memorial gatherings and proclamations, including one that had to be issued twice.

In a proclamation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered state flags to be lowered to half staff and asked Floridians to pause to remember the victims of the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. But he initially made no mention of the gay or Hispanic communities in the proclamation honouring the 49 club-goers who were killed on Latin night in the deadliest attack on gay people in the U.S.

Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orange County criticized the Republican governor for the omission, calling the proclamation, “straight-washed.”

DeSantis later tweeted that the state mourns the loss of life from the attack that “targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic community, and Florida as a whole.”

READ MORE: Widow of Orlando gunman acquitted in nightclub shooting

Several hours later, his office issued a “corrected version” of the proclamation that said Florida wouldn’t tolerate hate toward the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

“Staff made an error in the previous version. The governor has directed that the proclamation be re-issued, including a direct reference to our LGBTQ and Hispanic communities,” said Helen Aguirre Ferre, the governor’s communications director, in an email accompanying the revised proclamation. “The governor stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who were attacked during this horrific act of violence at Pulse three years ago today.”

When asked about the omission at a bill signing in Jacksonville, the governor said he wasn’t involved in drafting the original proclamation.

“When someone said that this wasn’t in there, I said, ‘Well, then put it in there.’ So we fixed it,” DeSantis said. “Obviously, we flew the flags at half staff and that was the reason we put out the proclamation. Sometimes these things happen and you’ve just got to correct it.”

Later in the day, DeSantis and his wife, Casey, visited Pulse and laid bouquets of flowers outside the nightclub.

In the U.S. Senate, Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators introduced a resolution honouring the 49 people killed on Latin night. The resolution, which passed with unanimous consent, noted that the massacre was “an attack on LGBTQ community, the Hispanic community, the city of Orlando, the state of Florida and the United States.”

Gunman Omar Mateen was killed after a three-hour standoff by SWAT team members. He had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. At the time, the Pulse massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. However, another mass shooting the following year along the Las Vegas Strip became the deadliest when 58 people were killed.

In Orlando, churches were ringing bells 49 times at noon, names of the slain were read at a midday church service in downtown Orlando and a Wednesday night memorial service was planned outside the Pulse nightclub, which has been closed since the shooting in June 2016.

Some survivors and friends gathered at the club shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday to mark the exact time the shooting started.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma has established a non-profit to open a memorial and museum at the site. About $14 million has been raised for the $50 million project. Six design firms have been selected as finalists and the winner will be chosen in the fall. The permanent memorial and museum are scheduled to open in 2022.

Mike Schneider, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Everything you need to know before getting the flu shot

Local pharmacist shares concerns, recommendations before flu season hits

Victoria’s Ultimate Toy Fair bounces back into Pearkes

The family-friendly event runs Oct. 19-20 at Pearkes

Oak Bay win first Bridgman Cup since 1973

Annual UVic event is an indicator for coming South Island finals, Island finals and provincials

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Most Read