A few hundred people gathered in Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood Monday night for a vigil honoring the 49 people killed at a gay night club in Orlando Sunday.
The vigil drew a diverse crowd. It was organized by a few lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations in the city, but the people who attended seemed to be of a wide array of races, religions and sexual orientations.
The crowd took Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake by surprise when she took the stage.
“Good lord. This is a lot of people,” she exclaimed before announcing she would not be using the written remarks her staff had prepared.
Rawlings-Blake, like all the people who spoke, said the shooting at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning was an act of hatred and needs to be countered with love and unity.
“There are times like this when words seem insufficient,” she said. “Just being here is speaking volumes about who we are as Baltimoreans — that it doesn’t matter what neighborhood you are from, it doesn’t matter what color you are, what god you pray to — that we stand together.”
The other theme of the night hinged on the fact that the weapon of choice in the attack was a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle.
Mary Washington, who represents Northeast Baltimore in the state House of Delegates, said gun violence and discrimination are things Baltimore residents know all too well.
“We all find ourselves victims, at times, of violence and discrimination,” she said. “So it’s very relevant to here in Baltimore, and it’s relevant that all these communities come together to say no more and to stop it, stop the violence.”
More than 100 people have died from gun violence in Baltimore so far this year, including a 13-year-old who was shot in west Baltimore on Saturday.