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Sacramentans Show Solidarity With Orlando In Wake Of Mass Shooting

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Daniel Sederquist, left, hugs Hank Lilienthal at a rally outside Faces, an LGBT nightclub in Sacramento, expressing support for victims of a shooting at an Orlando nightclub earlier in the day on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Sacramento residents gathered outside Faces nightclub Sunday afternoon to honor the victims and express solidarity after the mass shooting that killed 49 at a gay nightclub Orlando, Florida.

The rally began with a visual statement of solidarity: Attendants laid down on the ground and traced their bodies in chalk, creating 50 outlines representing the victims of the Orlando shooting.

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Outlines of bodies are drawn on the ground outside Faces nightclub in Sacramento on Sunday, June 12, 2016 to represent victims of the shooting at an Orlando nightclub earlier in the day. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The event took a mostly somber tone, but several of the speakers addressed the crowd with calls to celebrate diversity in the face of tragedy.

Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg gave an emotional speech to the crowd, expressing solidarity with Orlando and with the LGBT community in Sacramento and nationwide.

“Today’s horrific events in Orlando tell us in the most stark way, that we must be both vigilant for each other’s safety and vigilant for the cause of true equality,” Steinberg told the crowd. “We must never cease our struggle until prejudice itself is dead. We win by living our lives out loud.” 

Audio From Sunday's Rally In Sacramento

Steinberg also took the opportunity to hint at debates on immigration and gun control, suggesting that the tragedy highlights the need to “build bridges and not walls”, and “eliminate the guns that can fire hundreds of rounds in seconds.”

The mayor-elect closed his speech by asking supporters who had put up his campaign signs to replace them with signs reading “pride over prejudice.”

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Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg speaks at a rally in Sacramento expressing and encouraging  solidarity between LGBT and religious communities after a shooting at an Orlando LGBT nightclub earlier in the day on June 12, 2016. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Basim Elkarra, who heads the Council on American Muslim Relations, or CAIR, was also one of the speakers at the rally. He told the crowd that the Muslim community and LGBT community are allies in the fight against fear and hatred.  

"After 9/11, the LGBT community was the community that was there with us in solidarity -- before 9/11, after 9/11 and today,” said Elkarra. “Homophobia and Islamaphobia are no different. They stem from hate and lead to discrimination of violence and they have absolutely no place in this world."

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Imam Mumtaz Qasmi of Sacramento's Downtown Mosque walks through LGBT nightclub, Faces, before  a rally in Sacramento expressing support for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting on Sunday, June 12, 2016.  Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

One of the people in the audience was Mathew Senander who lives in West Sacramento.

"I'm here because I was just horrified by what happened this morning,” said Senander, “And I think LGBT people have experienced so much discrimination and so much terror over the years and it's just kind of culminated in this. And it just broke my heart and I felt like I need to come and show some support."

Last night, Sacramento City Hall was lit up in rainbow colors to honor the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Flags at City Hall and state buildings throughout town will be flown at half-staff.

The city of Stockton also held a candlelight vigil following the Orlando shooting.

"We as a community in Stockton will stand up with other communities against all forms of hate, in particular Homophobia, Transphobia, and Islamophobia, and especially gun violence, which this city is no stranger to," San Joaquin County officials said in a statement.   

The Sacramento Police Department said in a statment it will increase presense of uniformed officers around the city in the coming days even though there is no known threat to Sacramento. 

-Capital Public Radio Staff