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Orlando Shooting Massacre: Latino Groups Unite, Grieve for LGBTQ Latinos Killed at Pulse Nightclub

Maria Teresa Kumar

(Latin Post) – Following the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, Latino civic and politically-engaged groups have come out to grieve with victims of the LGBTQ community.

Latinos Unite for LGBTQ Latinos

On early Sunday morning, at approximately 2 a.m. local time in Orlando, a man later identified as U.S.-born Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub and engaged in a hostage situation and police shootout that resulted in the deaths of 49 people and injured 53 people.

Pulse, a LGBTQ nightclub, was celebrating “Latin Night,” and many of the victims are Hispanic.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 prominent Latino-based organizations, expressed their solidarity with the LGBTQ community on Sunday.

“We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who were targeted in this heinous attack in Orlando, in which initial reports suggest that the brunt of the suffering fell upon LGBTQ Latinos,” said NHLA Chair Hector Sanchez.

“We share our deepest condolences and sympathy with the families and loved ones of those who were killed. This was an attack on all of us,” added Sanchez, who also serves as the executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “We hope that those who were injured are able to make a full recovery and encourage all those who are able, to donate blood as soon as possible at the nearest blood donation center to help the survivors.”

Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar also shared her condolences and commented that the Orlando shooting should not result in an attack of the Muslim faith, which Mateen followed.

“The Voto Latino community is devastated by the tragic and senseless attacks in a gay nightclub in Orlando, where more than 50 lives were taken and many more hurt. Today, our country mourns the loss of innocent lives and we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community because love doesn’t know race, gender or religion. This tragedy must not become an attack against the Muslim faith community in our country, and today we’re reminded that an attack against any American is an attack on all of us,” said Teresa Kumar in a statement.

“We must come together in these moments, not shut ourselves off,” continued the Voto Latino president. “We must open our hearts and work together toward building a country that is inclusive and reflects the rights of all people of dignity and equality. We send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims. Voto Latino grieves with you.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Latino civic engagement organization in the country, expressed its shock to the communities affected on Sunday morning, from the LGBT to Latino communities.

“The overnight terrorist attack on the LGBT community has left Orlando residents devastated while the nation sits in shock,” LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha Jr. said on Sunday. “Those at the bar were celebrating Latin night and we can assume that many of the victims of the shooting were also Latinos. The hateful violent act did not have to happen. As our nation mourns the innocent lives lost, we must unite in calling for more protections and ensure the safety of all Americans. Today, LULAC extends its thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families and to the residents of Orlando.”

President Obama Responds

On early Sunday afternoon, President Barack Obama addressed the nation, stating the Orlando terror attack was also an act of hate.

“We are still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer,” said Obama from the White House briefing room, adding the FBI is investigating the events as an act of terrorism and it’s clear the shooter was filled with hatred.

“[T]his is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans. Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history,” Obama later added.

Obama said the Orlando shooting is another example how easy it is to obtain a weapon and shoot a place, whether a school, house of worship or movie theater.

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