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Photos: Chicago Vigil Honors Victims Of The Orlando Shooting Massacre

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Jun 13, 2016 5:32AM

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 and left 53 wounded, Chicago's LGBTQ+ community held a vigil in Boystown to honor the victims.

With rainbow flags flying, scores of Chicagoans gathered in a show of solidarity against the horrific massacre, which has been labelled both a terror attack and a hate crime. Countless others expressed their dismay over the heartbreaking tragedy on social media, and vowed not to live in fear of hate crimes. The attack comes during Pride Month—a time of celebration and revelry for queer communities across the United States. Chicago's own Pride Parade is June 26.

The vigil began Sunday evening with a moment of silence, followed by a prayer for the Orlando shooting victims. Attendees held rainbow flags, flowers, candles and photos of victims of gun violence. Some read original pieces of poetry and sang songs. The phrases "Love wins,"—a common LGBTQ slogan since the landmark Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage—and "Don't let fear rule" were repeated among those who gathered at the vigil.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson was among those who spoke at the vigil, saying "CPD is a department for everyone," and that the department would do its best to keep everyone safe.

Organizer Andy Thayer told the crowd he remembered the murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was killed in a brutal hate crime in 1998, and how an attack on one LGBTQ community member is "an attack on all of us."

"We had a message: an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We are a rainbow of community. As we go forward, my message to our community is we cannot multiply the hate that we saw at 2 a.m. this morning by scapegoating Muslims or people of other faiths," he said. "We live in a country where a leading presidential candidate is banking on anti-Muslim hate, banking on anti-immigrant hate to reach the White House. And so we LGBT people who stand for justice for all, must stand for justice for Muslims for South Asians, for anyone who is targeted by hate, and not just ourselves."

Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement in the wake of the shooting:

Last night's horrifying act of terrorism in Orlando was an attack on our most fundamental values as Americans. On behalf of the City of Chicago, Amy and I send our deepest condolences to the friends and family members of those who were lost. June is a time when all Chicagoans and all Americans proudly celebrate the contributions of our LGBT community. This horrendous violence will only deepen our resolve to continue building a society that values everyone, regardless of who they love. The thoughts and prayers of Chicago will remain with the victims of this attack as they seek comfort and courage in the days ahead.

And in a follow-up statement Sunday evening, Emanuel said he looks forward to celebrating at Chicago's Pride Parade: "We will not be intimidated by those who use fear and violence to attack our most fundamental values of inclusiveness and community. Two weeks from today I look forward to joining many others in Chicago as we come together as a city to celebrate those values, and the LGBT community, at our Pride Parade."

In a separate statement, Chicago police said there would be heightened security at the Pride Parade and that CPD has offered to help Orlando's police department:

"As we learn about another reprehensible act of gun violence, CPD extends our deepest condolences to those affected by the horrible tragedy in Orlando. Our thoughts and support also go out to our partners at the FBI and Orlando Police for their great work managing such a tragic and difficult incident. This morning we reached out to Orlando PD to offer any technical, manpower or resource assistance."

Chicagoan David Sotomayor told ABC7 at the vigil that his cousin Eddie, 34, was one of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. "He was amazing," Sotomayor told ABC7. "He was awesome. I called him this morning just to hear his's a little heartbreaking."