Flags are at half-mast in the entire state of Florida today in memory of the victims of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.
It’s been four years since a shooter walked into the Pulse night club and opened fire, shooting indiscriminately at a bar full of young, mostly gay club-goers near closing time.
The lucky made it out of the nightclub on Orange Avenue in Orlando. Those who survived, some trapped inside for hours, told a story of horror — of hiding in bathroom stalls as the shooter communicated with police teams outside, sometimes shooting more people, biding his time in the middle of that dark, balmy summer night.
In the end, 49 people were murdered and 53 were injured by a mass shooter who was finally killed by police bullets. It was the worst massacre on the LGBTQ community in American history, according to the New York Times.
A 3-Part Tribute to the Victims, Including a Memorial, a Museum & a Survivors Walk Orlando Are Still in the Works
Over the last four years, the onePULSE Foundation has been working toward creating a Survivor’s Walk at the site of the mass shooting, along with a memorial to the victims and the PULSE museum, all of which would span a few city blocks.
The Survivor’s Walk would repurpose the Pulse nightclub building by cutting a walkway through the center of the building while blocking off any view of the inside.
The designers said they felt like they needed to open the building up to air when figuring out, “How can we reclaim a place from terror and darkness and create a new reality?,” French designer Thomas Coldefy of Coldefy and Associés told Click Orlando.
The walls of the walkway will be made of granite. As people walk through, “Musical vibrations [will be] softly present through the touch of your hand on the wall,” Julia Capp with Coldefy and Associés told Click Orlando of their vision.
According to onePULSE Foundation CEO Barbara Poma, “The National Pulse Memorial & Museum will honor the 49 lives taken and all those affected while also educating visitors and future generations on the profound impact the tragedy had on Orlando, the U.S. and the world.”
The project has taken some time, as design companies competed for the contract to create the sprawling memorial project, and feedback from the community and family members of the victims are still being taken into account. The contract was won by Coldefy and RDAI | HHCP in October 2019.
A reflecting pool will surround the Pulse building. According to a press release from the onePULSE Foundation, “In memory of the 49 victims, a palette of 49 colors lines the basin and radiates towards a peaceful garden planted with 49 trees. The design also envisions a spiraling, open-air museum and educational center with vertical gardens, public plazas, and a rooftop promenade.”
The mother of one of the victims, who is not named in the release, said, “This design is the one that I personally fell in love with. It gives me peaceful memories and reflections of remembering our 49 Angels. The water running calms the soul. The opening beam of light shining towards the heavens confirms to me that our Angels are watching over us…”
The designers said they hope to have the Survivors Walk project finished by 2021, followed by the Pulse memorial in 2022. The museum isn’t expected to be completed until 2023, according to Click Orlando.
This Spring the Pulse Memorial Mural Was Vandalized by a White Supremacist Group & Victims’ Families Lost a Lawsuit Against the Shooter’s Former Employer
A group called Patriot Front, which is labeled as a white supremacist group by the Anti-Defamation League, vandalized the Pulse Memorial mural in mid-May. Stickers and flyers were pasted to the memorial that said things like, “Patriots, Reclaim Your Birthright” and “Strong Families Make a Strong Nation.”
The onePulse Foundation posted on their Facebook page, “We are deeply saddened by the hate displayed on LGBT+ Center Orlando – The Center’s Pulse memorial mural. We send love to our friends at The Center and our community who knows love always conquers hate.”
A commenter named Marsha Barnes Whiting wrote, “My heart is broken that this terrible and unjust display of hate took place upon such a beloved and honored memorial. It’s sad that these people have never experienced a rainbow of love. My prayers will continue for the Pulse family. Take care, and stay safe and well dear hearts.”
In another blow, the families of survivors of the massacre lost a lawsuit to the security company the shooter had worked for, G4S.
According to Law.com, “the lawsuit tested the limits of Florida negligence law, which only allows claims against third parties in rare circumstances.”
Law.com reported the families of survivors sued the security company, saying they had trained him to be an “‘expert marksman’ and allegedly submitted a fraudulent psychological evaluation to help him get a Class G gun license.” Survivors and family members of victims accused G4S of negligence, arguing the company “owed a legal duty to the general public because [the shooter] had raised multiple red flags in more than 10 years of employment.”
Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal said it wasn’t the security companies responsibility as the shooter was a “free agent,” according to Law.com.
There Is a Virtual Memorial Tonight & the Interim Memorial Is Closed Today to the Public So Victims, Survivors & First Responders Can ‘Have the Space to Remember Their Loved Ones & Reflect’
The pre-recorded video will feature the reading of the 49 names by family members, along with remarks from several city officials and onePULSE Foundation Founder and CEO Poma. The interim memorial site will only be open to families, survivors and first responders.
onePULSE Foundation chairperson Earl Crittenden, said, “One of the special remembrances that has happened every year during the Remembrance Ceremony is the appearance of the rainbow over Orlando — a fitting and miraculous tribute to the 49 Angels. The foundation is encouraging everyone to ‘Be the Rainbow’ this year and to embody the essence of love, hope, unity, acceptance, courage, and strength.”
As part of the memorial, Orlando Poet Laureate Susan Lilley has written two original poems for survivors and first responders. There will be two performances by “Orlando-raised singer, actor and Broadway star Norm Lewis and Latin singer/song writer, record producer and author Yaire,” according to a press release, and “Senior Pastor, Reverend Terri Steed Pierce and Associate Pastor, Reverend Stanley Ramos of Joy Metropolitan Community Church will lead the invocation.”