(ORLANDO, Fla.) — An estimated 50,000 people attended a candlelight vigil Sunday night to remember the 49 people killed in Orlando last week, event organizers said.
— Visit Orlando (@VisitOrlando) June 20, 2016
What was initially supposed to be a small, grassroots movement turned into a massive turnout as tens of thousands of people arrived by Lake Eola in the heart of downtown Orlando Sunday evening.
Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and several other elected officials were on hand to give remarks.
The vigil concluded with people in the crowd holding candles as the names of the 49 Pulse victims were read.
Mayor Jacobs told the crowd that enough is enough when it comes to hate and violence.
“Together we will drive out the darkness,” Jacobs said during the rally. “We will drive it out with kindness and compassion.”
“This is the moment in time when hearts are opened and minds are changed forever. And this is the moment when love will prevail,” Jacobs added.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 20, 2016
Before the vigil even began, a rainbow had appeared in the sky, causing many to take notice in excitement.
— Lake Eola (@LakeEolaPark) June 19, 2016
An emotional tribute was held Saturday evening as thousands filled the Camping World Stadium for a soccer match between Orlando City and the San Jose Earthquakes at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Through social media, fans were able to coordinate T-shirt colors by sections to turn the stadium into a rainbow in support of the LGBT community.
— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) June 19, 2016
Thousands had also gathered to mourn the death of Christopher Andrew Leinonen on Saturday, who was killed last weekend during the Pulse nightclub massacre.
In a powerful symbol of love overcoming hate, roughly 200 people had formed a human chain on the the main street of downtown Orlando outside St. James Catholic Cathedral to counter-protest the Westboro’s Baptist Church.
A group of “guardian angels” had also descended onto, dressed in wings large enough to block the WBC from picketing in an effort to protect the mourners.
Orlando police said the Westboro protesters had left the state with no plans to return.
Westboro protesters have left the state & no plans to return. Thank you to those who met protest with grace & love. pic.twitter.com/PZJ9F9MB9S
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 18, 2016
Equality Florida Institute says it has raised nearly $6 million for victim’s families and survivors, most of it coming from a GoFundMe campaign that has drawn more than 110,000 worldwide contributors.
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