Two years ago today, 49 people lost their lives in the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
On Monday, survivors of the Pulse shooting were joined by survivors of the Parkland shooting on the steps of City Hall to honor those lost with a call for action against gun violence and for LGBTQ rights.
“Six hundred and twelve days. That’s how long it took for Pulse headlines to become Parkland headlines…That’s how long it took for 49 lives lost to become 17 more. And in those 612 days, nothing changed,” said Pulse survivor and organizer of the Pulse Rally to Honor Them with Action at Orlando City Hall Brandon Wolf, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
“Two years ago, I was washing my hands in the bathroom sink, when I heard an assault rifle fire 45 rounds in one minute. I’ll never forget the smell of blood and smoke burning the inside of my nose. And it wasn’t until later that I learned that 13 of those rounds killed my best friends,” said Wolf.
“But the real crime here is that my story isn’t unique anymore,” he continued.
“We live in an America where our leaders would rather beg for NRA money than do something to protect our children. We live in an America where the will of the donors always outweighs the power of the people. Time and time, and time again, we get thoughts and prayers with a heaping side of inaction. After Columbine, no action. After Virginia Tech, no action. After Aurora, no action. Charleston, no action. Sandy Hook, no action. Pulse, no damn action!”
“I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired and ready for some goddamn action! I am ready to take the ’No NRA Money’ pledge and demand that my lawmakers stop taking money from the gun lobby,” he said. “I am ready to have my voice heard at the polls in November. I am ready to vote, I am ready to march, I am ready to speak and rally, I am ready to honor my best friends with action.”
— Mi (@elasticwaistbnd) June 12, 2018
“My beloved son and 48 others…were ripped from our lives,” said Maria Wright, the mother of Pulse victim Jerry Wright. “But it is becoming so commonplace, we’re beginning to accept it as normal. It is not normal for our children to die while they sit at school, eat at a restaurant, pray in church, listen to music at a concert or dance in a club.”
“We deserve better,” she continued. “Our children deserve better. And we must let our leaders know that we expect better…We mustn’t just lift our voice. We must roar.”
“We make change for ourselves,” said Parkland survivor Diego Pfeiffer told the crowd of about 200 people. “We can plead to the men who make no noise, or we can make the sound of love in our own communities. We can love each other. We can build a better future. We can vote. We can change those elected officials…We can save the world, everybody.”
#HonorThemWithAction: Parkland survivor @firepfeiffer1 was among the many speakers at a rally in Orlando organized by #Pulse and #Parkland survivors. Their goal? Implore leaders to take action on gun violence.
— Spectrum News 13 (@MyNews13) June 12, 2018
Gina Duncan, a transgender woman, noted the epidemic of anti-trans violence, and Charlotte “ChaCha” Davis talked about gun violence in the African-American community and challenged people to bring “someone who doesn’t look like you” to the next rally they attend.
“I am tired of meaningless tweets and empty words of promise by our politicians,” said Parkland survivor Aly Sheehy (above).
“I fight because I am tired of being told I am too young to understand…I am now 18, and come November I am going to fight for the future that our friends don’t have anymore. I am going to fight for the people who don’t have a future anymore. To the politicians, I hope you hear our screams now because they’re only growing louder.”