Compassion and solidarity in Orlando

A week after the carnage perpetrated by Omar Mateen, 29, an American security agent who killed 49 people and injured 53 others, during an evening at the Pulse nightclub, Orlando (Florida) closes ranks and doesn’t do not forget. Still reeling from a massacre committed against a backdrop of hatred for homosexuals and an Islamist claim by this man of homosexuality who was probably repressed, tormented by his religious rigorism.

Just before taking action, Omar Mateen put his life insurance in the name of his wife, whose role in the preparation of this mass crime committed in the name of Daesh is still controversial.

In the gardens bordering Lake Eola in central Orlando, photos of the victims are lined up amidst candles that passers-by relight. “I do it so that we don’t forget that they were innocent victims. I’m neither gay nor lesbian, but whoever did this was targeting a dual community: gays and Hispanics. It’s the Holocaust by bullets here at home in Florida. He’s a monster, ”says Carilla DeLeon, an academic who studies Florida’s First Nations. In town, the star-spangled banner is at half mast on the poles alongside the rainbow flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community. Everywhere, little knots with the six colors are hung. Trees, gutters, windows, mirrors. Everywhere, a slogan: “Orlando is united”.

Fundraising of 2 M €

At the open-air theater, on the shores of Lake Eola again, a religious rock group leads the crowd for “a night of prayers”. Baptist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches have helped. Most of the victims were Hispanic (36 out of 49) and belonged to the Catholic community.

The local bishopric has drawn on its troops to find priests who speak fluent Spanish in order to support the suffering of families. “With us, when we cry, we do it in Spanish. The origin is taking over, “says Diana Bolivar, the energetic president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Florida. Charities are overwhelmed. More than 2 M € have already been raised by the Equality Florida fund. Not to mention private donations. In the restaurants of the historic center, this weekend, fundraisers were organized to meet the needs of employees of the Pulse, technically unemployed. The establishment was ravaged by the onslaught of police, who shot Omar Mateen. “Here, no work, no pay. So generosity must take its place, ”explains the manager of Mary’s, a hamburger restaurant set up in a former grain store. During a musical performance, customers gave more than $ 1,000 (€ 880). “And it will last as long as it takes,” says the manager, proudly showing a bucket in which the tickets pile up.

On the forecourt of Dr Phillips’ theater, the other place of improvised memory, a horde of bikers made a gigantic round around the photos of the victims. Everyone holding hands. “Hey guys, I’m counting on you, you will have to come every week of every month of every year,” shouts the leader.

As for Parliament House, the largest gay club in Florida, also located in Orlando, it posted record attendance this weekend.