HOLYOKE, Mass. (WLWP) – More than 100 people gathered at Holyoke City Hall Thursday night. People from all walks of life came out to celebrate the 49 lives lost when Omar Mateen opened fire at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Sunday morning.
“There’s a large group of the LBGT here community and I felt it was important to be here for that community,” said Holyoke City Councilor Jossie Valentin.
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who is openly gay, ordered the lowering of the American flag to half-staff. The LGBT flag was also lowered. Attendees proudly wore the colors that represent them and their fallen sisters and brothers.
Councilor Valentin said, “We felt it was important to have an event here in Holyoke, because 49% the community here is Latino.” Most of the victims killed in Orlando were Latino.
Hate is what brought this group together, but love is what unites them. “At first, I was like, ‘I have to be like scared,’ and then I thought about it and was like, ‘No, I have to go and stay strong and keep being myself,’” said Keanu Conda of Holyoke.
Faces of all 49 victims were placed on candles. People held signs encouraging everyone to love one another.
Mayor Morse was unable to attend the event because he was in Boston for a meeting.