Orlando Shooting

You Can Still Help The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting

On June 12th, 2016, a man entered a gay bar called Pulse and started firing, killing 49 people.
The response was almost immediate, with people stepping up to donate blood, money, and time to the cause.
You can still help even as the event falls farther out of the headlines.
There are various charities and blood donation centers, but what do they need now?
One response was from Pulse itself.
The club’s website was replaced with a page directing people to a PayPal set up for the employees, who aren’t working while the club is closed.
“For those of you wanting to help the staff, the Pulse Employee Recovery Fund provides assistance to employees who have been affected by this tragedy and will continue to have monetary needs during our time of recovery. All money goes directly to the Pulse employees to assist with their daily needs while they are out of work.” the page reads. Sara Brady, the spokesperson for Pulse, elaborated “…(The employees) can’t work because (the) club isn’t open. They are also emotionally traumatized which will impact their ability to get new jobs…they need to heal.”
 
Another way that people have been looking to help is with blood donations.
Shortly after the shooting, people were lining up at OneBlood buildings donate blood, food, and time.
Pat Michaels, spokesperson at OneBlood says that the best way that people can help is to schedule.
“Keeping the appointments are the thing that we’re asking people to do: to make the appointment and to keep the appointment going in the future,” Michaels said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “It does help us keep things even and not have a lot of people waiting for a long period of time. In the initial hours after the tragedy in Orlando, we had people standing in line for hours, waiting to donate blood.”
Calling ahead or scheduling an appointment online ensures that the process goes smoother and faster.
Michaels also asks that people continue to donate and volunteer regularly.
Blood has a short shelf life and needs to be replenished regularly.
“But certainly, the thing that we want people to do if you’re eligible to donate blood is to make the commitment to do this going forward,” Michaels said.
Cover Photo Credit: Governor Tom Wolf/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Miami Graffiti Artists Honor The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting

Less than two weeks after the nation’s largest mass shooting took place at an Orlando gay nightclub, Pedro AMOS was approached by an old friend to commission an art piece for the victims of the attack.

The friend in question was Roxana Rauseo, manager of the Wynwood Yard, and the aim of the project was to memorialize the identities of those lost on June 12th by creating a giant public mural located on the back wall of O Cinema’s building.

AMOS, whose artist owned and operated company had recently been named The Miami’s New Times best graffiti guide, called upon colleagues Luis Valle and Jona Cerwinske to aid in the mural’s initial construction.

All three of them donated their free time in order to finish the painting as soon as possible, a process that meant trading alternating shifts amid the oppressive Florida heat with little supervision and a lot of donated paint.

The mural itself, scenically located across from the The Wynwood Yard’s own urban garden, depicts the full names of every person killed during the night of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.

Those names, 49 in total, were purposely rendered in the same six colors that typically make up the rainbow LGBT flag.

AMOS describes the experience of receiving the notecards from Rauseo bearing the identities of the dead, later admitting he still cannot bring himself to throw the papers away even after the project had already finished.

“I was all like work, work, work and trying to organize everyone and put everything together but [then] she gave me all these cards and it was really heavy to get all that, it really made it all real. And then you’ll be painting [a name] and this girl would come and say ‘Oh my god, my mother worked with him.”’

Construction of the mural was often marred by inclement weather and a host of technical mishaps, eventually stalling completion of the painting an extra four days over what was initially scheduled.

13522580_883478271760477_286745480_nProblems with a donated forklift meant that Valle had to fill in a majority of a giant, multicolored heart using only a paint roller and a very sore back (his efforts were later compensated with a complementary massage at The Standard).

Regardless of the conditions, many locals still stopped to gather on Thursday night and hold a prayer vigil for those lost in the Pulse shooting, even bringing bouquets of flowers and lighting candles in order to honor the dead.

“I was up on a ladder and I’m painting and everybody came around during the vigil and I had my back turned. I turned around and I realized everybody was there with their cameras and it was a moment that just kind of hit me, you know?” Valle said.

The Nicaraguan-born artist had previously painted a memorial piece in New York as part of a fundraising effort for a deceased person, but had never attempted anything on this particular scale before the events in Orlando occurred.

The commemorative mural comes as a result of the devastating mass shooting that took place in in Central Florida earlier this month, one that resulted in the collective deaths and injuries of 102 individuals when a lone shooter, Omar Mateen, opened fire inside of a popular nightclub.

“I thought it was bigger than an LGBT community problem. I thought it was a world problem. I thought it was a failure on behalf of all humans. It’s disgusting and it rocks everyone, gay straight Latino, black, white, to their core. It’s just a terrible scenario.” AMOS said at one point, alluding to a speech he gave to expectant attendees on the night of the Wynwood vigil.

Maybe so, but both the location of the attack as well as the hateful rhetoric spouted by its perpetrator would suggest otherwise.

LGBT activists and civilians alike have fought for decades to create safe spaces within the queer community.

For better or worse, their struggles have always been the subject of punditry and social scrutiny, a fact further evidenced by the controversy surrounding the recent reactions that conservative Florida legislators maintained in the wake of the Pulse shooting.

It’s not surprising that the deaths of these individuals would be politicized in the wake of this tragedy, not when we know that discriminatory laws already politicized many aspects of their lives to begin with.

Still, if there’s anything to glean from the memorial in question it’s the cathartic role, however modest, that public art can play in the wake of these tragedies.

The swiftness with which the different facets of Wynwood life responded to the events in Orlando reflects the collective empathy expressed by local entrepreneurs, artists, managers, and volunteers for the LGBT community as a whole.

More importantly, these kinds of displays have the potential to galvanize residents against incidents of homophobia, pressuring otherwise reluctant allies to openly express support. It’s also viscerally, laudably beautiful to look at, a kaleidoscope of vibrant images framed by the urban greenery surrounding it.

“As artists, we have the ability to make a difference and [either] do something about this or at least put a voice out there.” Valle said at one point during the interview, “It’s the least we can do for something so horrible.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

“We… Will Rise Again”: Florida Politician Gives Incredible Speech After Orlando Massacre

North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin has been featured on our site before.

But this time, it is for something really amazing.

On Tuesday, Galvin gave a spellbinding speech about the resiliency of the LGBT community after the devastating massacre in Orlando that claimed 49 lives.

Watch:

Read More: Does Orlando Prove Trump Right? Absolutely Not

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Donald Trump, Your Idea For People To Come To Clubs With Guns Is The Dumbest Damn Thing Ever

By Nate Nkumbu

On early Sunday morning at 2 a.m., the deadliest mass shooting in American history and the deadliest attack on the LGBT community in decades happened at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed and 53 others were injured.

Current presidential candidate Donald Trump said to CNN that If some people in the club had some guns, this would of never happened.

What?

As a person that has gone out with large groups of people, the last thing that you want to do is bring a gun into a club or an event.

This isn’t exactly rocket science.

Club are supposed to be places of enjoyment, where one goes to relax and have fun.

Not everybody is going to be thinking in the right state of mind.

Alcohol, drugs, hormones, etc.

Adding guns into that equation is recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

What could go wrong? Photo Credit: njaminjami/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

What could go wrong? Photo Credit: njaminjami/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Clubs by nature are going to tightly pack places with bodies next to another. Often conflict will happen because of some perceived slight such as stepping on someone’s shoes, grabbing or dancing with the wrong person.

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Now add several guns into the picture.

That same situation occurs and next thing you know, you’re waking up in a hospital gown with a few bullets logged in you and your name and face on local news.

Pro-gun rights organisations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) will argue that arming the “good guys” will help to save lives in a mass shooting, but a study done by Mother Jones found that in 62 cases of mass shootings prior to the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, none were stopped by the “good guys”.

The study even went as far as saying “Attempts by armed citizens to stop shooters are rare. At least two such attempts in recent years ended badly, with the would-be good guys gravely wounded or killed,”

All of that exist even with laws making it easier for people to carry firearms in public places and the largest influx of guns in the marketplace.

What happened in Orlando is indeed sad and has continued a heated debate about gun control, LGBT rights and terrorism.

But with the call to arm our citizens to protect themselves coming from multiple sources, I think adding guns to already over saturated market full of them and handing them out without discretion doesn’t fix the problem.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ted Van Pelt/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Facebook Post From Right After The Orlando Massacre Is Just Perfect

This Facebook post is republished below with the permission of the author. 

By Brian Gil

As someone that literally never goes out to gay clubs, gay pride parades, or gay anything. I have to say, I have never cried so hard in a single day in my life.

This shooting and the effect its had literally (49 dead) and metaphorically are the fucking worst.

Only a gay person will truly feel the pain today that comes with living a life subconsciously anxious about stigmas, prejudices, and whether or not people will just generally accept you for how you are naturally.

Only a gay person has had to wake up everyday before this event, and looked themselves in the soul to tell themselves they’re worthwhile,while the rest of the world questions your integrity.

Your gonna tell me, on top of carrying all that around, the single location gay people can convene and feel comfortable about themselves in our society has someone walking in with a rifle shooting and rotating the gun across the room? Kick them while your down why don’t you, piece of shit.

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While the past few years the gay community has seen several progresses (marriage equality mainly), it seems we’ve all gone complacent about how unequal gay people still are.

Employment discrimination is still legal in many states. Anti-LGBT legislation has been sweeping the nation in the news lately. Clearly someone feels unaccepting to the point where they carried out their prejudices into mass violence.

I wanted everyone to see how a couple (literally very few) progresses towards acceptance doesn’t mean the related bigotry in our society has gone away.

Just like racism – just because the civil war, civil rights movement, and ‪#‎staywoke‬ movement have improved our society, it doesn’t mean racism doesn’t still exist (post-racial narrative).

We have to do what we must as people everyday to be conscious of these problems so we can change our world to make future generations better so these types of tragedies stop happening.

How many innocent marginalized members of society have to die before they become accepted? My point is, theres a better way – which is simply understanding, compassion, and solidarity for other humans

‪#‎HelpfulNotHateful‬

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Does Orlando Prove Trump Right? Absolutely Not

In a gay nightclub, 49 lives were taken because a crazy and hateful person had legal access to a weapon of mass destruction.

The shooter, Omar Mir Seddique Mateen proclaimed his support for ISIS, pointed his licensed assault rifle at the bodies of innocent people, and shot.

Those are the facts. It was an attack of terror and hate, and is yet another example of how guns have caused so much damage to this country.

All eyes have been on the presidential candidates to see how they respond to this public safety crisis.

In an interview on Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders explained the necessity to regulate guns in order to avoid the wrong people from accessing them, and to do away with assault rifles.

“We should not be selling automatic weapons which are designed to kill people”.

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Hilary Clinton advocated for gun control and “defeating international terror groups”. She also expressed her support for the LGBTQ community and a determination to eradicate these kinds of hate crimes in America.

Trump, as to be assumed, took a different approach. He used the attack to reiterate his campaign to ban Muslims from entering the US, (clearly not keeping in mind that Mateen was an American citizen born in New York), and reprimanded Obama and Hilary for remaining “politically correct” and avoiding the phrase “radical Islam”.

It was no surprise that Trump took a racist approach to this tragedy, however a potential fear is that many Americans who are traumatized from this attack could be persuaded by his words.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 10.21.12 AM

So far, on Twitter, most have voiced their disgust with Trump’s comments, but the real question asks if this is what it would take for more Americans to get behind Trumps bigoted and hateful campaign against Muslims?

When horrible things happen and people are afraid, they revert into a defensive mode, determined to obtain protection and justice.

These are valid feelings in mourning, but they are dangerous in the hands of Donald Trump. He is manipulative and driven, and that is a deadly combination.

Tension within Americans towards Muslims has been a lingering issue since 9/11. It ebbs and flows with each given current event.

It is a kind of irrational fear that can cause people to advocate for the wrong things. It is clear that Trump recognizes people’s eagerness to feel safer, and is using that to promote his motion for a temporary ban of Muslims in the country.

Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Cover Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

But this is not unusual, and this was to be expected. The real fear is how many people will he convince and how will it affect this election?

Trump has made this an issue of political correctness. He believes that the term “radical Islam” is a phrase not used enough in our discourse and therefore allows things like this to happen.

But again, let’s look at the facts. Mateen was an American citizen, and his ex wife has explained that she does not feel this was religiously motivated as much as it was the outcome of him being mentally ill.

Mateen legally bought an assault rifle, a weapon clearly for more than one needs for hunting or protection. He was an American, and he murdered people out of hatred.

The so called “praise” that Trump is receiving for predicting this horrific event is not only insensitive, repulsive, and narcissistic, but it is also false.

Religion is an ideology that has a great deal of power over a people. Many terrorist attacks have been executed at the hands of radicals sometimes related to the Islamic nation, but often they are not.

Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation for a political aim. In Colorado Springs when Robert Lewis, a white man from South Carolina shot up a Planned Parenthood, that was political, that was terrorism.

In fact, between 1982 and 2015, out of the 72 mass shootings in America, 44 of the shooters were white. However, Trump is not advocating to ban Lewis and all white people.

Terrorism is a domestic and foreign issue. It does not end if a people are cast out of this country and oppressed for their religion. Guns are easily accessible and end up in the hands of unstable individuals.

In his speech for the Orlando shooting, Obama said, “America has to decide what kind of country it wants to be”. If it were up to Trump, we would be a country driven by hate and racism. Guns would remain accessible and people would continue to be murdered by the hundreds each year; but there would be no Muslim Americans.This is a violent and unacceptable way of thinking.

The numbers are there and clearly show that the real problem is guns and an undeniably stubborn culture that revolves around them.

This is a tragedy beyond consoling. The victims of the Orlando shooting were targeted out of hate and murdered because a mentally ill man had access to an assault rifle. This is the poignant issue of this massacre.

Unfortunately, because of the general hate and fear of Muslims in this country, Trumps sentiments could potentially serve as a dangerous outlet for enraged Americans, and will allow the topic of gun control to once again fall silent.

There are no words to console the victims and their families after this massacre. Cynically, it appears that if the Sandy Hook shooting did not change people’s feelings about guns, perhaps nothing will.

But right now, Americans are in a powerful position to stop a man filled with bigotry and callousness from becoming President and oppressing people in the same ways a fascist dictator once had.

This event is frightening, but our fear cannot be directed in the wrong places. We simply cannot afford to give in to such ways of thought.

Instead, we must stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, discuss productive methods to avoid something like this happening again, and evaluate the kind of country we want to either remain as, or become.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

It’s Time To Let Gay Men Give Blood Again

This past Sunday a horrible act of terrorism occurred at Pulse Night Club, a gay club located in Orlando, Florida.

An armed gunman entered the club and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving over 50 other injured.

Local hospitals were in desperate need of blood and encouraged people to come out and donate to help save the lives of the victims of the shooting.

But because of the restrictions set out by the FDA, gay men, the group of people that was targeted during this attack, were not allowed to donate.

These “deferrals,” as the FDA calls them, were first put in place in 1983, during the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

They were put into place back when there still wasn’t much information out there about HIV/AIDS and a false stigma existed that made people think only gay people could contract the disease, which we now know to be far from the truth.

It is true that back then HIV/AIDS were more common within the LGBT+ community, but that is because at the time the use of protection during sex wasn’t thought to be necessary and was rarely ever used.

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The FDA had initially banned any man who had sexual contact with another man and any women who has had sexual contact with a man who had sexual contact with another man.

In 2015 the rules were loosened up slightly and now only restricts men who have had sexual contact with another man within the last twelve months. This prevents any sexually active gay man to be a donor.

These rules are outdated and this week prevented some members of the LGBT+ community from being able to give blood to help support and potentially save lives of the victims of their own community who were attacked.

In recent years precautions been taken within the LGBT+ community to raise awareness about contracting HIV/AIDS as well as the importance of using protection and getting regularly tested.

There have also been many scientific advancements since the restriction was first put into place and now all donated blood is screened for many different types of blood-borne, diseases including HIV/AIDS.

The ban on gay men donating blood needs to be lifted.

It was written decades ago based fear and false stigmas.

We have progressed far enough to know now that any person can contract HIV/AIDS, not just gay men.

We need to stop excusing these negative stereotypes and make a change to these rules.

Every healthy and able person should be able to help their communities and donate in trying times such as these, and we need to no longer let ignorance stop them from doing so.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

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