City’s vigil for Orlando club massacre

Penshaw Monument is lit in the colours of the rainbow in a show of support for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
Penshaw Monument is lit in the colours of the rainbow in a show of support for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Wearside to hold vigil for Orlando shooting victims

A vigil will be staged in Keel Square in the city centre on Saturday at 7.30pm as a mark of respect for those who died in the attack.

Mourners lay flowers in memory of the shooting victims at a tribute site in Orlando.

Mourners lay flowers in memory of the shooting victims at a tribute site in Orlando.

It happened in Florida in the early hours of last Sunday, when gunman Omar Mateen, 29, killed 49 people in the gay nightclub Pulse before he was shot dead, with 53 people left injured.

Hundreds of people have already said they plan to join in the evening in Sunderland, with speakers to address the crowds and bands being recruited to perform acoustic sets.

The team behind it, who met at Sunderland College, have also asked Sunderland City Council if it can change the colours of the square’s water fountains to display the rainbow flag, which represents the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).

College student Jack Cunningham, 18, is leading the organisers, who will provide candles, but say people can bring along their own to light during the vigil.

We want to show our support from the community in Sunderland, whether that’s from LGBT people or straight people, and that we are not afraid to stand up against discrimination or terrorism.

Michael Hall

Michael Hall, from Plains Farm, is also among those who are helping to make plans alongside Rebecca Dono, 19, her brother Michael, 18, Ben Haley, Bailey Baker, also 18 and Callum Littlemore, 20.

The 18-year-old, who works at McDonalds in North Moor Lane, said: “We saw all these vigils, but there were none in Sunderland, and it has a very big and vibrant LGBT community and we thought there would be the demand.

“We want to show our support from the community in Sunderland, whether that’s from LGBT people or straight people, and that we are not afraid to stand up against discrimination or terrorism.

“We’ve had a really good response from people.”

Photographs showing some of the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Photographs showing some of the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Saturday evening will be 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 is being lit up all week in the colours of the flag as Sunderland City Council showed its solidarity.

Newcastle has been among the places to host vigils so far.

Anyone who would like to perform at Saturday’s event can contact organisers through the Sunderland Vigil for Orlando LGBT Shooting Facebook page.