Pittsburgh’s faith community held a candlelight vigil outside of the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh Monday night, to remember the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend.
A giant rainbow flag was unfurled across Grant Street just before the vigil began, stretching almost from curb to curb and flanked by hundreds of mourners. It was quiet as dusk fell, as if those gathered were collectively holding their breath.
After several minutes of stillness, New Voices Pittsburgh Executive Director La’Tasha Mayes approached the microphone.
“We are here to honor the lives of those lost in the Orlando mass shooting,” Mayes said. “We are here to mourn together. We are here to stand against hate and to stand against terrorism, and we are calling on this entire nation for love, equality and justice for all.”
Mayes was joined by faith leaders from Pittsburgh’s Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities. All condemned the violence and urged those gathered to take action to fight for equality in their own families and social groups.
“This is because of us and our silence about the bigotry that exists and festers and grows in this country. This is because of us who sit silently while somebody says a derogatory term on the bus, on the street corner, at the family reunion,” said Rev. Shanea Loenard of Judah Fellowship Christian Church. “This is a product of the United States of America.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto invoked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his assertion that only light can drive out darkness and only love can drive out hate.
“Let us be reminded of what our responsibility is this day forward," he said. "To be those that find the solutions to this, to be those that drive hate out of our community and to be those that spread love.”