Hundreds Gather In Phoenix To Honor Orlando Shooting Victims

Published: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 7:25am
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016 - 7:26am
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(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
A candlelight vigil for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting drew several hundred people to the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center.

Several speakers of different faiths called for unity, acceptance and love during a candlelight vigil Sunday night at the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center. The event was designed to demonstrate solidarity with all those impacted by the mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub Saturday night.

As Melanie Delage’s uncle played the harp less than 20 feet from where she sat, her mind was more than 2,000 miles away. “We wanted to be down here because of the love we have for Orlando and the people of Orlando and also the LGBT people," she said.

Her two children, including 11-year-old Nathan, were born in Orlando.

"I was kinda sad and scared for the people who died, but they died doing the thing they loved and died being the way they wanted to live and that’s good," Nathan said.

Next to Nathan, sat Mario Magana who spent a decade living in Orlando and most of his Sunday checking on friends and family. While he’s relieved they are safe, the situation is so painful that he almost skipped the vigil.

"Just because it hurts," he said. "It hurts that this is still happening. That so many years after 9-11, we’re still fighting the same fight and still doing nothing rather than doing something positive to make changes in our world, to create peace in our world."

Though the group of people gathered in Phoenix last night couldn’t undo Saturday night’s chain of events, they seemed to find comfort being part of the crowd. Leaders from various faiths addressed the crowd. Azra Hussain with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona said she’s sickened and disgusted.

"As one humanity we can choose how we live from this point on," she said. "Please let us choose and very loudly say, and very clearly for the world to hear, we as Americans, as neighbors, as brothers and sisters choose not to hate."

Hussain also recalled how the local LGBT community stood in solidarity with Muslims during anti-Islam protests outside Valley mosques last year.