Miami, FL—SEIU Florida President Monica Russo released the following statement in reaction to the horrific loss of life in Orlando in the deadliest mass shooting in this country’s history:
“Nearly 50 years ago this month, the Stonewall riots gave birth to the LGBTQ rights movement. It is a fight that continues to this day, with many victories along the way, but many more to go. This should be a moment for celebrating all our LGBTQ brothers and sisters have achieved. Instead, we are mourning the loss of so many innocent lives in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history.
“The impact of this horrific tragedy goes far beyond Orlando and Central Florida, where we represent 7,000 workers who we all hope are safe and sound today, many of them working in hospitals and nursing homes and as public servants for cities and counties. This hateful act of violence directly targeted not just the LGBTQ individuals, friends and allies gathered together that night, but the entire LGBTQ community.
‘June is a time when the LGBTQ community gathers to celebrate Pride and honor our long, hard march toward progress,’ said Tobias Packer, head of the 1199SEIU LGBTQ Caucus and TransAction Board Member. ‘The LGBTQ rights movement was born out of the Stonewall Inn, a gay nightclub in New York City. Gay clubs like Pulse have a long history within our community as sacred spaces of self-expression. This horrific act of senseless violence strikes directly at our sense of safety.’
“On the heels of yet another mass shooting, we have to ask ourselves hard questions as a country about our easy access to assault weapons. How many more tragedies like this do we have to go through, where people are being killed at schools, at movie theaters and now at an iconic club where hundreds were gathered simply to enjoy their Saturday night?
“Enough is enough.
“There are many more fights ahead, both to protect our communities from gun violence and our LGBT friends and loved ones from hatred and discrimination. But today, we are in mourning. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.