PITTSFIELD, Mass.—Hundreds of people converged on Park Square in Pittsfield Tuesday to show support for the survivors and families of victims of the massacre at an Orlando, Fla. nightclub two days earlier. The event, the Vigil for Orlando & Against Violence and Hate, included song, prayer, oratory, and calls for action to end such gun violence.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, 29 year old Omar Mateen walked into Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a 9 mm handgun, Mateen opened fire on the unsuspecting patrons of the club, killing 49 and injuring 53. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in United States history. It was also the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in the U.S.
Vigil for Orlando quickly assembled by local volunteers
People in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, like most Americans, were stunned and horrified at this tragic episode. While the police investigation continued, and details about the shooter and his victims trickled in, volunteers quickly organized a vigil in Park Square in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, held the evening of the following Tuesday. One of the volunteers, longtime community organizer and arts advocate Meghan Whilden was on hand to help guide the vigil and introduce performers and speakers, including local residents, members of the clergy and political figures.
This episode is the full audio of this vigil, attended by hundreds of people who came to mourn the loss of life in solidarity and call for action to prevent future massacres. The recording begins just after Meghan Whilden has introduced the Reverend Dr. James Lumsden Pastor at First Church on Park Square, who led the crowd in singing “We are a gentle angry people, singing for our lives.”