Solemn solidarity: Local community stages vigil to honor Orlando shooting victims

Local community reacts to the Orlando shooting

  • Penny Ricketts, Greenfield, precinct 5 town councilor, cries at a vigil on the Greenfield town common for victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, comforted by Susan Worgatik, Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community, including Greenfield Town Councilor Penny Ricketts, far left, who gathered on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting join in singing, “We Shall Overcome,” Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community hold candles and gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Members of the community gather on the Greenfield town common for a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Rachel Kashner, Myrt Jaquan-Wilson, and Skyler Craig, light candles at a vigil on the Greenfield town common for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting, Sunday, June 12. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/12/2016 11:35:15 PM

GREENFIELD — After a gunman killed dozens of patrons in an Orlando gay club, the Franklin County community rallied together to pay their respects and mourn those who lost their lives in the shooting early Sunday morning, which is now being called the worst mass shooting in United States history.

An impromptu vigil came together on the Greenfield commons on Sunday night for both the local LGBT community and their allies to join together in a moment of reflection.

Residents formed a circle to pray and say a few words about the tragedy. The American flag blew in the wind above the commons as the vigil-goers lit candles and shared a moment of silence. The group joined together in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Greenfield Councilor Karen Renaud organized the vigil and spread the word through social media.

When she heard about the shooting, she knew that she had to provide a space for people to share their emotions.

“It’s hard to deal with these tragic events in isolation,” she said.

The vigil brought together about 20 people. One woman buried her face, wet with tears, in her hand. Another woman stood with a sign that read in bold, black letters “No More Assault Guns.” A few people stood silently, just listening in support, while others took turns speaking about the struggle for equality, the prevalence of mass shootings and the battle to end hate crimes.

“I am also just heartbroken,” said Lev Ben-Ezra. “This is hitting closer to home as a queer person.”

The vigil-goers also contemplated other mass shootings, like the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, the shooting that killed worshippers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and the attack at a Pennsylvania Amish schoolhouse.

Residents spoke about both the struggle against homophobia and the increasing prevalence of mass shootings.

“It is happening everywhere. There is no place that is safe,” said Julie Payne Britton, a Greenfield resident and member of the LGBT community.

“It’s kind of scary, but hopefully it was an isolated incident,” said Greenfield resident Liz Muella.

“I’d like to think that love will conquer hate,” said Steven Goldsher, owner of the Arts Block.

Heather Blais of St. James Church in Greenfield led the group in prayer. “Let our light burn, even when the wind tries to blow it out,” she said.




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