Hundreds of people join Sunderland vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting
Hundreds of people joined together in Sunderland to take part in an emotional tribute to those who were murdered in the Orlando shooting.
Groups of all ages gathered in the city's Keel Square for the vigil which honoured the 49 people who were shot dead in the gay nightclub, Pulse, in the early hours of last Sunday morning.
The evening included speeches from several people, and the names of the victims were read out, followed by a 30 second silence and candles lit in honour of the dead.
Gunman Omar Mateen, 29, killed 49 people and left 53 injured before he was shot dead.
The vigil was organised by a group of young friends in the city, who met at Sunderland College, who wanted to do something to allow Wearside to show solidarity against discrimination and terrorism.
Student, Jack Cunningham, 18, who lead the organisers, said he was overwhelmed with the response and the support they had been given.
He said: "It has been overwhelming, we only started organising it on Monday and the support we have had has been exceptional."
Jack was one of the speakers on the night, saying: "We need to show that here in Sunderland we support our LGBT community and all of our people, no matter who they are or who they love.
"If people can be taught to hate, then people can be taught to love and that's what we should be doing."
Other speakers who addressed the crowd, were Sunderland City Councillor, Geoff Walker, who read a poem he had written, Rev Chris Howson, chaplain of Sunderland University, Rev Dave Tolhurst, vicar of Silksworth and Linda Ohlson, from Wearside Women in Need.
Linda said: "This is a crime fuelled by hatred and we are all about challenging hatred."
She told the audience: "We will not be forced back into the closet, we all need to continue to fight for equality."
Rev Tolhurst said the murders has been an act of "pure evil".
He said: "These were people created in the image of God and murdered because they didn't fit into someone's bigoted view of normality."
During the evening tributes were also paid to MP Jo Cox who was killed in West Yorkshire this week.
The vigil in Keep Square was the latest gesture in the region as people show their support for the victims of the massacre.
Rainbow flags have been lowered at the city’s civic centre and Southwick Police Station, while Penshaw Monument has being lit up all week in the colours of the flag as Sunderland City Council showed its solidarity.