Posts Tagged As: Pulse Night Club Massacre

How One Orlando-Bound Flight Extended Their Condolences To a Grieving Grandmother

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2016

Shortly after news broke about the attack on the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, JetBlue announced that they would offer free flights to Orlando to family members of those who were killed and wounded. One JetBlue flight attendant, Kelly Davis Karas, posted this moving account on Facebook of what happened on one of those flights:

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, , 20 years old.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, , 20 years old.

Today my dear friend Melinda and I had the sad privilege of attending to his grandmother on our flight as she made her journey to Orlando to join her family during this unspeakable time.

Knowing she was making this hard journey alone, JetBlue employees made sure to be at her side every step of the way. Melinda stood quietly by her wheelchair while we waited until it was time to board. Kellie, the gate agent, boarded with her and helped get her settled. Melinda and I gave her a blanket, a pillow, a box of tissues and water so she could be as comfortable as possible. She was understandably distraught, but met us with kindness and gentleness. And gratitude.

But here’s where our flight got truly inspiring. I had the idea to pass around a piece of paper to everyone on board and invite them to sign it for this grieving grandmother. I talked it over with Melinda and she started the process from the back of the plane. As we took beverage orders, we whispered a heads up about the plan as we went.

Halfway through, Melinda called me, “Kel, I think you should start another paper from the front. Folks are writing PARAGRAPHS.” So I did. Then we started one in the middle. Lastly, running out of time on our hour and fifteen minute flight, we handed out pieces of paper to everyone still waiting.

When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support. There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears.

When we landed, I made an announcement that the company had emailed to us earlier in the morning to use as an optional addition to our normal landing announcement, which states “JetBlue stands with Orlando.” Then with her permission and at the request of a couple of passengers, we offered a moment of silence in Omar’s memory.

As we deplaned, EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES. Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process.

I am moved to tears yet again as I struggle to put our experience into words. In spite of a few hateful, broken human beings in this world who can all too easily legally get their hands on mass assault weapons – people ARE kind. People DO care. And through our customers’ humanity today, and through the generosity of this wonderful company I am so grateful to work for, I am hopeful that someday soon we can rally together to make the world a safer place for all.

I will never forget today. ‪#‎Orlandoproud‬

John McCain: Barack Obama Is “Directly Responsible” for the Orlando Massacre (Multiple Updates)

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2016

John McCainI can’t decide if the Washington Post was being sarcastic when it described Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as an “elder Republican statesman.” But if that’s supposed to be some kind of honorific, it’s just one more indication of what statesmanship means in today’s GOP:

McCain made his remarks in a Senate hallway to a small group of reporters, responding to a question about the gun-control debate that has flared on Capitol Hill since the Sunday-morning shooting that left 49 clubgoers and the gunman dead.

He answered the question about the gun debate by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy.

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures,” McCain said.

He also adopted Trump’s “I called it” line when pressed by reporters:

“He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”

Update: Moments ago, McCain tweeted this out:

That doesn’t match his direct statements to reporters: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it.” His statements to reporters were pretty unambiguous. So I’m gonna call bullshit on this “clarification.”

Update: Buzfeed’s Tarini Parti has more:

“When he pulled everybody out of Iraq, then al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS and ISIS were the ones responsible for these attacks. So it’s directly at the doorstep of President Obama, and I intend to tell every American I know about it.”

Update Again:

The full statement:

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today clarifying his earlier remarks regarding President Obama and the Orlando attack:

“I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”

I don’t see “I apologize” to anyone — the President, victims’ families, survivors, the LGBT community, Orlando — anywhere in that statement.

Pulse Night Club Will Reopen: “We’re Not Going To Let Someone Take This Away From Us”

Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2016

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse, appeared on NBC’s The Today Show this morning to speak for the first time about what happened early Sunday morning. She described the club as “a safe, fun place to come be who you are.” And she described that phone call she got that morning:

It was the most surreal phone call I’ve ever received. When my manager called me and told me, and he was just yelling into the phone. He kept saying, “We have a shooter! We have a shooter!” I just kept screaming, “What?” And finally it sunk in and… you can’t wrap your brain around that. You can’t.

… I can’t stop imagining what that was like for them… I don’t think I’ll ever stop that.

She opened Pulse about thirteen years ago in honor of her brother, who had died of AIDS. She chose to name the club Pulse “because it has to do with your heartbeat. It has to do with your life, and we just wanted to keep the heartbeat alive.”

Lauer asked how her mission would change as she goes from honoring one person to now honoring 49:

We just welcome those families into our family. And we just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep our spirit alive. And we’re not going to let someone take this away from us. …I have to go back to that club.

After the interview, Matt Lauer added that she told him, “It’s important never to let hate win.”


Jim Burroway

June 16th, 2016

Yesterday’s Senate filibuster in support of tightening gun control laws ended late last night, and now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the Senate will hold votes on the Democrats’ proposals, perhaps as early as this afternoon. I think this top headline at Politico right now sums up the situation nicely:

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 10.16.23 AM

That’s pretty good. It’s actually quite Onionesque.

Owen Jones: Determination and Love of LGBT People Will Burn Brighter Because Of What He Did

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Owen Jones walked out of a Sky News panel discussion over panelists’ refusal to acknowledge that the massacre was an attack against the LGBT community.

One of the Most Anti-Gay Republicans In Congress CAN Say Our Name. Just Don’t Get Too Excited Over It.

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who had been one of the country’s staunchest opponents of marriage equality and is a regular speaker at the Family “Research” Council’s annual Values Voter Summit, broke ranks with the majority of his caucus today on CNN’s New Day, when he told Chris Cuomo that it was “clear that gays were targeted in Orlando”:

I think it’s clear that gays were targeted in Orlando. It does matter. And it’s tragic that they were targeted because of their sexual orientation. I talk with hundreds of conservatives over on this side of the aisle. No one brings up the fact in any derogatory way or even mentions it to that extent. I mean, it’s tragic. And we’re sorry about that and they are in our prayers as if they were the Christians that were slaughtered in Charleston, South Carolina some time back, equal standing with God, Chris.

So yeah, there’s probably no reason to get too excited by this. I mean, those gays in Orlando aren’t Christians, but they do get equal standing. Which is, I guess, is some kind of a small improvement. Two years ago, King said of gay people: “I’ll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don’t expect to meet them should I make it to heaven.” Whatever.

CBS Poll: Americans Strongly Disapprove of Trump’s Response to Orlando Massacre

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Clinton, TrumpA CBS News Poll out today shows that a majority of Americans strongly disapprove of Donald Trump’s responses to the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse gay night club. Americans are fairly evenly split when it comes to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s response.

Clinton Trump
Approve 36% 25%
Disapprove 34% 52%
Don’t Know 30% 24%

The report adds: “Most Democrats (62%) approve of Clinton’s response, while just half of Republicans (50%) approve of Trump’s. More independents are critical of Trump’s response than Clinton’s.”

Americans have also soundly rejected Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.:

Total Reps Dems Inds
Yes, should ban 31% 56% 14% 30%
No, should not ban 62% 37% 79% 62%

Americans across the board largely hold that the attack was both an act of terrorism as well as a hate crime (57%). That response was similar for Republicans (65%), Democrats (53%) and Independents (56%). A larger minority of Republicans say it was “mostly” terrorism” (22%) than Americans as a whole (14%), while a somewhat larger majority of Democrats say it was “mostly a hate crime” (37%) than Americans as a whole (25%).

The margin of error for the entire group is ±4%. The margin of error for the Republican, Democratic, and Independent subgroups will be greater according to their respective samples sizes.

UPDATED: SBC Can’t Say Our Name, But This Pastor Can

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

The video is not embeddable, but this rather interesting TV media monitoring service has it along with a transcript. Yesterday evening, during a vigil held at Orlando’s First Baptist Church, Pastor Joel C. Hunter of the unaffiliated evangelical Northland Church in suburban Longwood, invited The Task Force’s National Campaigns Director  Victoria Kirby York to teach the Baptist gathering about how to pray for the particular needs of LGBT people in Orlando:

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 10.32.37 AMPastor Hunter: When they asked me to pray for the LGBTQ community, at first I was honored and thrilled, and then I was convicted. I‘m not sure how to do that. I‘ve never been a part of a vulnerable community. I‘ve been a part of powerful communities all my life and never been a part of a persecuted community. Short doesn’t count. 

When we lose someone, we have two feelings immediately. One is we wish we’d is have built a better relationship. And the other is — and I’ve been searching my heart — is there anything I did that was complicit in that loss? I‘m going to continue searching. But i will not presume to know what this community is going through, the LGBTQ community. And so i asked Equality Florida to send someone. And my new friend, Victoria Kirby York, who is the national director of campaigns for the National LGBTQ Task Force — I‘m going to keep saying those initials often enough that they roll off my tongue. I asked her to come and just share maybe with many of us who would not know what to pray for in that community right now. What to consider that we might not you understand. Victoria, could you help us? 

Victoria Kirby York: Good evening, beloved community. Thank you so much for being here, for standing in the gap for so many of our community members. Some of you who are here, so many who aren’t here, those who are watching and those who wish they could be here. I grew up about 50 minutes away from here in a town called Brandon, Florida, and lived here until recently and have a lot of friends across central Florida. Many who frequent Pulse nightclub. Many who lost friends Sunday. And as I heard about the news, like many of you, I was heartbroken. I wanted to search out ways in which i could come back home to Florida and get engaged, see what I could do to provide any kind of healing that I could do. And I can tell you that standing up here right now looking at all of you is such a beautiful sight. I‘m going to talk to you a little bit about why it matters so much to the LGBTQ community that each and every one of you are here in a church. 

..As the national campaign director of a national LGBTQ organization, I look into the faces of so many people who have been kicked out and rejected by their churches. 13-year-olds who are forced to live on the street because they’ve been kicked out of their homes. 35% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ youth, even though we represent less than 5% of the population. and many of those young people have been kicked out because they have family members, parents specifically, who have not accepted who they are and who they love. We also look at the suicide rates amongst LGBTQ people, particularly youth. Again, over a third of suicides, one of the leading causes of death, sadly, for far too many young people come from the LGBTQ community. Again, less than 5% of the population. So death has been a reality that we experience for those who have attempted to take their lives, for the dozens of transgender women particularly of color who have lost heir lives due to hate crimes over the last couple of years and before. 

And so when we look at that question how we can make good come out of this moment, my charge to you all for this prayer is for grace, for graceful conversations with each other and for each other. To come into those conversations on both sides from a place of wanting to understand, wanting to heal, wanting to emphasize. Because our community for far too many years have never witnessed a sight like this, a church where they can come, be prayed over and not be forced to change who they are, or who they love.  For some people this image that I‘m staring at right now exists only in their dreams.

Update: Christianity Today has more about Joel Hunter:

The senior pastor of Northland Church, a 20,000 member, nondenominational church, admitted that “institutional forms of white Christianity” have been complicit in the denigration of LGBT communities, but expressed hope for “the next generation” of Christians.

Speaking in the aftermath of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Hunter told RNS that he had “to go back and examine my own heart, starting tonight in services.

“I’ve got to confess to my congregation that if there’s anything I’ve said that could have ever led to anything — the dismissal or denigration of any other population — God, I am so sorry for that.”

He admitted that “many of us, especially those in the conservative evangelical branch of the faith, don’t normally think of the vulnerability of many of the communities around us…but this has put it on the agenda.

Hunter says he’s not quite ready to change some of his theological positions as a “matter of hermeneutical integrity”, he admitted “there’s much of scripture that can come up to a greater visibility when it comes to treating people who don’t interpret scripture like you do or who may not believe in scripture at all.” Which is pretty much how all movement among religious people start.

Senate Dems Launch Talking Filibuster Over Gun Control

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Senate Democrats are finally showing some backbone.

The Senate is debating a Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill, and Democrats are pushing to add a gun control amendment. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is leading the filibuster, with Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) participating by asking Murphy questions. Other Democratic Senators are reportedly signing up for speaking slots. According to Politico:

“I’m going to remain on this floor until we get some signal, some sign that we can come together on these two measures, that we can get a path forward on addressing this epidemic in a meaningful, bipartisan way,” Murphy continued on the Senate floor on Wednesday, after he first started his filibuster at about 11:20 a.m.

Most of the Democratic caucus was unaware of Murphy’s plans until he took the floor, two senior aides said, though there had been some talk Tuesday about lining up speeches throughout the night Wednesday.

While that filibuster is taking place, Senate Democrats and Republicans are negotiating over two very different proposals to close the No Fly List loophole, which Republicans in both houses voted down last December. Democrats are also insisting that the gun show and internet sales loopholes also be closed.

“Senator Murphy and Senate Democrats are holding the floor because they will not accept inaction or half measures in the face of continued slaughter. Congress cannot sit on the sidelines while killers freely buy weapons to brutally murder the people Congress is supposed to be protecting,” Murphy spokesman Chris Harris said in a statement.

“Until private sales at gun shows and over the internet also require stringent background checks and unless suspected terrorists on the no fly list are prohibited from legally purchasing guns, our lax gun laws will continue to allow terrorists and criminals to amass a weapons stockpile,” Harris continued. “Senator Murphy will remain on the floor demanding the Senate adopt these measures.”

Update: Other senators taking turns in the filibuster so far include Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Charles Schemer (D-NY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Republican Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE).

Southern Baptist Convention Cannot Say Our Name

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

SBC-logo1The Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution on “The Orlando Tragedy” yesterday on the opening day of its annual meeting in St. Louis. The resolution, though, leaves me confused. Who were the more than one hundred people who were shot? Where were they? Were they morning commuters at a crowded bus station?


WHEREAS, Our entire nation is grieving as a result of the mass shooting of over one hundred people, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least fifty in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016; and

WHEREAS, The Bible teaches that God has created all men and women in His image (Genesis 1:26–27), and as the Author of life, regards acts of murder as evil (Matthew 16:18), and calls His people to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:39); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14–15, 2016, pray for the surviving victims, all affected families of those murdered, injured, and otherwise harmed, and first responders; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we extend our love and compassion to those devastated by this tragedy and pledge to come to their aid by donating blood and other supportive means; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we regard those affected by this tragedy as fellow image-bearers of God and our neighbors, and therefore condemn this act of terrorism and others like it and pray for the day when these senseless acts of violence cease.

GOP Rep Says Pulse Wasn’t a Gay Night Club: “It Was Mostly Latinos”

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) joined the growing Republican consensus to refuse to acknowledge that Sunday morning’s attack in Orlando was against a gay night club. Sessions chairs the House Rules Committee which yesterday blocked an amendment proposed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to restore President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. When National Journal reporter Daniel Newhuser asked Sessions whether the shooting might change his mind on the anti-discrimination measure, he got this response:

Pete Sessions

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)

Sessions’s office tried to explain it away in the classic “taken-out-of-context” sort of way:

Sessions’ communications director, Caroline Boothe, told TPM that Newhauser’s quotes were correct but “taken out of context without the background information.”

“What my boss meant to say was that there weren’t only gay individuals at the club but people from all walks of life were present,” Boothe said.

She added that “at the end of the day we’re all Americans” and said Sessions’ heart grieved for everyone.

Before the attack, Pulse’s web site described the club as “Orlando’s Premiere Gay Night Club” and “Orlando’s hottest gay bar located in the heart of downtown.” Today, the site has been taken down and replaced with a simple statement in response to the shooting: “From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community.”

Anderson Cooper Gets Emotional While Paying Tribute To Orlando Victims

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2016

Steven Colbert: “Love Is a Verb, and To Love Means To Do Something”

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2016

Like you, I am sickened by the news that a terrorist killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in Orlando. in the most deadly shooting in American history. Naturally, we each ask ourselves, what can you possibly say in the face of horror? But then sadly you realize you know what to say because it’s been said too many times before.

You have a pretty good idea what most people are going to say. You know a president, whoever it is, will be saying. You know what both sides of the political aisle will say. You know what gun manufacturers will say. Even me, with a silly show like this, you have some idea of what I will say. Because even I have talked about this when it’s happened before.

It’s as if there is a national script that we have learned. And I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time, with nothing changing. Except for the loved ones of the families and the victims for whom nothing will ever be the same.

It’s easy, it’s almost tempting to be paralyzed by such a monstrously hateful act, to despair and say, well, that’s the way the world is now.

Well I don’t know what to do, but I do know that despair is a victory for hate. Hate wants us to be too weak to change anything.

Now these people in Orlando were apparently targeted because of who they love. And there have been outpourings of love throughout the country and around the world. Love in response to hate.

Love does not despair. Love makes us strong. Love gives us the courage to act. Love gives us hope that change is possible. Love allows us to change the script.

So love your country, love your family, love the families of the victims and the people of Orlando, but let’s remember that love is a verb, and to love means to do something.

Mateen’s Wife Tried To Talk Him Out Of Attacking Pulse

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2016

NBC has just broken this story:

Omar Mateen’s current wife, Noor, told the FBI she was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case said. She told the FBI that she once drove him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out.

Noor is cooperating with investigators. She may face charges for failing to notify authorities about what she knew before the attack.

Putin Condemns Orlando Shooting; Russian Couple Detained For Laying Flowers for Orlando Victims

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2016

According to the official Russian news agency TASS:

PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin has expressed condolences to his US counterpart Barack Obama and all Americans over the tragedy in Orlando, the Kremlin press service said on Sunday.

“In a telegram with condolences, the head of the Russian state stressed that Russia shares pain and sorrow of those who lost their near and dear ones as a result of this barbaric crime and hopes for a speedy recovery of those wounded,” the statement says.


russia-_640x345_acf_croppedFelix Glyukman told SBS he and his boyfriend, Islam Abdullabeckov were detained for about three hours, after trying to leave flowers and a sign reading “Love wins” outside the US embassy in Moscow.

“We were in shock. And we decided to go to the embassy with flowers and candles and a poster,” he said.

He said he does not know why he and his boyfriend were singled out.

“There were many people and many flowers and candles. But the policeman grabbed the poster and told us we have to leave, but Islam (Abdullabeckov) said we didn’t want to and (the officer) grabbed him, and put us in the car.”

Mr Glyukman told SBS police accused them of committing an ‘administrative offence’.

He said he and his partner had not intended to make a political statement, only to pay their respects to the victims of the Orlando massacre.

“This is very strange, and very sad, I think,” he said.

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