Chicago LGBTs and allies honor Orlando shooting victims (PHOTOS)

Mon. June 13, 2016 4:46 PM by News Staff

lakeview vigil to honor orlando shooting victims

photo credit // ross forman
Chicago, IL - Chicago LGBTs and allies gathered Sunday in Lakeview to honor those killed and wounded Sunday in a mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub.

Nearly 300 people attended the community vigil at the corner of Halsted and Roscoe in the heart of Chicago's LGBT neighborhood. The vigil organized by Chicago Survivors, a non-profit organization that helps families in the aftermath of a homicide in Chicago.

The 30-minute vigil was organized by Chicago Survivors, and the speakers included Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

"We're here to support not only Orlando, but to support the community here, and to let you know we'll always be here for you," Johnson said. "As a result of the incident today, I have stepped up patrols in and around this community, as well as the special events going on across the city."

Related: Chicago police stepping up presence in Boystown after Orlando attack

Johnson was one of several speakers who pushed a love-all message, not to focus on the shooter's motive, to help heal a city and a country.

Rev. James Wilkowski, who was at the same spot in Boystown in 1998 for a vigil in memory of Matthew Sheperd, griped the crowd when he asked for a rainbow flag, then held it high in the air.

"This flag tells us that we are here because of God's love. Let this be a symbol of our mutual commitment to the entire community, and to the nation," Wilkowski said.

Chicagoan David Sotomayor, a performer and make-up artists who also is known as Jade Sotomayor, was one of the most emotional moments in the vigil – when he told that he lost his cousin, Eddie, 34, in the Orlando shooting.

"I'm pretty sad tonight, and overwhelmed, and happy to know that there is a community out there that cares about all this tragedy that happens," Sotomayor said. "I cannot even understand why this would happen—this man was amazing. He treated all of us so well. Anything you did, he had a smile on his face. I haven't met one person who has ever, ever said they would be upset with him. This morning I woke up to find out that through fans of mine that my cousin had passed in this shooting."

Commissioner Mona Noriega of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations spoke, and a crew of elected politicians also attended: state Reps. Greg Harris and Kelly Cassidy, and Alds. Deb Mell, James Cappleman, Raymond Lopez and Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.

The speakers were flanked by families whose children have fallen victim to gun violence in Chicago.

A second Chicago-area vigil was held Sunday in Andersonville, where Midsommarfest was underway. People gathered to remember the victims in several other U.S. cities, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Described as the worst mass shooting in American history, 50 people died and 53 were wounded during the early Sunday morning attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. 

Ross Forman contributed to this report.

Related: Chicago Mayor Emanuel statement on Orlando mass shooting

Photos: Lakeview Vigil for Orlando Shooting Victims

Windy City Times: Chicago vigil for Orlando shootings 6-12-2016