(CNN) — Barbara Poma, owner of the former Pulse nightclub, woke up on the fifth anniversary of one of the worst mass shootings in American history to the news of more mass shootings taking place.
“There is a problem of violence with firearms. There is a hate problem, ”said Poma, founder and executive director of the OnePulse Foundation, a local nonprofit organization created after the shooting. Why do we solve problems like this? Through violence and acts of hatred. Why?”
On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire at the Florida nightclub, killing 49 people during a Latino night at the popular gay spot in Orlando.
And the United States recalled the massacre on a Saturday in which 269 mass shootings were added in 2021 alone.
Between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning, four shooting incidents were reported across the country, according to the Gun Violence File. The shooting claimed at least two lives and injured at least 34 people in Texas, Georgia and Illinois.
Things haven’t changed much in the United States, Poma lamented, since the days when the Pulse offered a safe and vibrant space for LGBTQ people, particularly the Latino community. queer from Orlando. Even the parents of the club goers were welcome, said Poma, who will spend time with the victims and their families at memorial events held over the weekend.
The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden on Saturday.
“Five years ago today in Orlando during Pride Month, our nation suffered the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ + community in US history, and at that time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.” Biden said.
“In a matter of minutes, the Pulse nightclub, long a place of acceptance and joy, became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. 49 people who were there celebrating the Latino night were killed, many more injured, and many others left with scars forever. The victims were relatives, associates and friends, veterans and students, young people, blacks, Asians and Latinos, our compatriots.
Biden said he will sign a bill to designate the Pulse Nightclub as a national monument. “Pulse Nightclub is consecrated ground,” said the president.
‘Tired of hashtags, thoughts and prayers’
“It is a ray of hope in a day that is very, very painful for me and for others,” Brandon Wolf, who survived the massacre, told CNN on Saturday, referring to the national monument. «Forty-nine people lost their lives in Pulse. We were thrown into the spotlight. Our pain was on every television screen in the world. And it feels really good at a time like this to be able to talk about having an ally in the White House. “
But the pain of the survivors and relatives of the victims has not diminished over the years, he noted.
“The people I lost will not be there tomorrow or the day after,” Wolf said. “There are still missing faces at my birthday party. There are still empty seats at my table.
Elected officials must back up their words with action, Wolf said.
I’m so tired of statements. I am so tired of the hashtags, the thoughts and the prayers… while the people of our communities are dying, ”he said.
“Most of America wants to be able to go to a supermarket without being afraid of finding an AR-15 in aisle three.”
For now, however, words will have to suffice.
Many others honored Pulse victims on Saturday, as gun violence rages across the country.
“Our community will always remember the 49 angels taken on this day five years ago,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted. “We send our love to their families, friends and all those who lost someone special on June 12, 2016.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, tweeted: “Five years ago, an ISIS-inspired terrorist took 49 innocent lives at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub. Florida honors the memories of those who were killed in one of the darkest days in Florida history.
The Orlando Magic NBA team tweeted: “We join the LGBTQ + community in honoring those victims by spreading love, kindness and compassion throughout the Central Florida community. #OrlandoUnited ».
The Pulse gunman, who authorities said had pledged allegiance to ISIS, was killed in a shootout with police on the day of the massacre.
The club has not functioned since the incident and a monument with a museum and an educational center is being built on the site.
“I really want my elected officials to show up to work, have character and do the things that need to be done to keep our communities safer,” Wolf said.
CNN’s Natasha Chen, Kevin Conlon, Melissa Alonso, Julia Griggs and Haley Burton contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism