Tragedy struck the city of Orlando late Saturday night after a mass shooter killed 49 and injured 53 at a gay nightclub.
The shooter, Omar Saddiqui Mateen, may have been motivated by “a dislike of the gay community, and not terror,” according to a statement from his father. Police have stated that Mateen was heavily armed with an AR-15, a handgun, and a knife.
Just hours after the attack, a planned Los Angeles Pride moved forward.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed his city just before the Pride parade commenced:
“We all wanted to be here this morning, but we did not want to be here in these circumstances. But we are here as Angelinos, as LGBTQ community and allies here in West Hollywood, who I want to thank as always for hosting us, to say as Americans we will not shrink away, we will not not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back into closets, we are out here to march, to celebrate, and to mourn.”
“Today we know that we are targeted as Americans because this is a society where we love broadly and openly, because we have Jews and Christians and Muslims and atheists and Buddhists marching together, because we are white, black, brown, Asian, Native American, the whole spectrum in every hue and every culture is here. And all of our hearts today are with Orlando. We are Pulse. We are Orlando. We are Americans. We are all LGBTQ community members today. We are all a part of country that will not be beaten down, we will not go away, and today we are proud of who we are.”
Just before the parade, Santa Monica police arrested an unidentified man with guns and what was reported to be explosives in his car. Police were notified of a suspected prowler, leading to an arrest. The man told officials that he was en route to the pride parade searching for friend.
At the time of this report, there is no known connection with the Orlando shooting.
Mayor Garcetti took the time to thank the Santa Monica Police Department, the neighbor who provided the top, the FBI officials present at the parade, and others who were in attendance to keep the parade-goers safe.
Wrapping up his address, the Los Angeles mayor reassured the crowd, “This march goes on, we go on, we continue to love. And in the face of hate, hold somebody today.”
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath observed that the Orlando attack demonstrates that the LGBT community still has a long fight ahead of them. “While we mourn this heartbreaking loss,” she released in a statement, “we must also rededicate ourselves to the fight for equality for all people.”