The names of the men and women killed one year ago in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando were read one by one Monday night during a candlelight vigil on the steps of Syracuse City Hall.
“As I was standing there listening to the all those names, I realized, yeah that’s me, it could have been me,” said Lori Kim Alexander, who held up a sign for one of the 49 victims. “I feel very honored to have represented that one man’s life.”
Like Alexander, others who held up signs say it was an powerful, but tearful experience.
“It was hard. It was moving,” said Ionah Scully, who held the sign for Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velasquez. “It was thinking about this person’s life and what that was like and thinking about their last moments and thinking about resilience of this person who specifically was 50 years old might have had living as a queer person or however that person identified specifically.”
After the vigil, attendees were invited to write messages that would be sent to the onePULSE Foundation.
For Jaclyn Schildkraut – a SUNY Oswego assistant professor who researches mass shootings – the tragedy has changed her hometown forever and has become a focus in her studies.
“One of the more frustrating parts as a researcher is how much emphasis is placed on the shooter rather than the victims and for me,” Schildkraut shared. “So, if I couldn’t be home in my hometown of Orlando commemorating this event, I’m glad I was able to be here with my new hometown sharing with other people who feel the same way that I do.”
CNY Pride leaders say the massacre in Orlando instilled fear everywhere, but they say they’re pressing on for “one love.”
“It affected a lot of people obviously, both emotionally, physically, mentally,” said Donna Setrella, a CNY Pride Board Member. “Our numbers were down for festival, out of fear. Fear is huge in the community and always has been.”
The tribute to the 49 victims will continue this Saturday during the annual CNY Pride parade. CNY Pride invites volunteers to carry the 49 signs in the parade.
Those who are interested in doing so should meet at Destiny USA in the third parking lot on Solar Street.
For more information about other CNY Pride Week events, click here.