How New York City is paying tribute to Orlando nightclub shooting victims

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, June 13, 2016
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Dray Clark is in Greenwich Village with a look at how New York City is remembering the Orlando victims.

WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New Yorkers have been gathering in solidarity to express their support with the victims of the nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Two vigils were held in the city Sunday - one in Queens, the other at The Stonewall Inn in the West Village, considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement.

A vigil will be held Monday evening at the Stonewall Inn, with Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio expected to attend.

Early Sunday night, Stonewall Inn was filled with a lively crowd and festooned with rainbow-colored crepe decorations marking June as a gay pride month, awaiting the New York's huge Fifth Avenue parade in two weeks.

Outside the bar, several hundred people packed the street in front of the bar, chanting "no hate, no hate! More love, more love!" after hearing from a Muslim immigrant from Lebanon who called herself "gender nonconformist."

"I came to this country for safety," said Mirna Haidar. Instead, she's been persecuted for her sexuality and her identity as an immigrant and Muslim, she said.

A sign in the crowd read, "Gun control laws now."

A lineup of anti-terror police officers stood watch, feet from clusters of flowers honoring the dead and wounded. A bouquet of white roses came with the words, "Never stop dancing."

Joseph Pierce, of Brooklyn, came with his boyfriend to join others facing the violence in Orlando.

"Stonewall is a place that serves as a point of connection for a lot of people, for feeling vulnerable," he said.

The 33-year-old professor of Latin American literature noted the complex reasons behind such killings. In addition to possible radical Islamic motives, "homophobia is part of it, misogyny is part of it, and ways of thinking that allow you to imagine that murdering gay people is an available emotional response," he said.

President Obama has said he wants to designate Stonewall as the first monument to the gay rights struggle.

Here is a look at the memorial at The Stonewall:

And at the Queens rally, leaders called for love and hope instead of violence:

Support has extended across the city, with signs of support on NYC electronic billboards:

Including buildings -- the Empire State Building:

And the World Trade Center:

At least 50 people were killed early Sunday morning when police said Omar Mateen - armed with two guns -- opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub where more than 300 people were enjoying a night on the town.

Click here for more coverage of the mass shooting.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)