President Biden will make Pulse nightclub a national memorial


The site of the Pulse nightclub massacre (Pic: Anthony Constantine /

President Joe Biden has marked the 5th anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre by announcing that he will make the site a national memorial.

On 12 June 2016, while patrons were celebrating Latin Night at the Orlando, Florida LGBTQ+ nightclub, 29-year-old Omar Mateen burst into the venue and opened fire on the crowd.

A total of 49 LGBTQ+ people and their friends were slaughtered in cold blood and more than 50 were injured. After a three-hour standoff with the police, Mateen was shot dead by officers who forced their way into the club.

While the ultimate motive behind the shooting is still not known, the incident is said to be both the single biggest massacre of LGBTQ+ people in American history and the country’s second deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.

At the time, Biden and then-President Obama travelled to Orlando to pay their respects and “to pledge that what happened would not be forgotten,” said the president in a statement on Saturday.

Biden confirmed that in “the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground.”

He urged lawmakers to “address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms – mass shootings and daily acts of gun violence that don’t make national headlines.”

Biden also acknowledged gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities and called for the US Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act, pending legislation to ensure LGBTQ+ Americans have equal protection under federal law.

“We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of colour. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth,” said the president.

Alphonso David, president of the LGBTQ+ rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, also commemorated the solemn occasion.

“As we mourn this tragic loss, we must honour them with action to help create a world that does not facilitate mass shootings, a world in which all of us actively support legislation that addresses gun violence. So long as those who wish us harm can take advantage of our country’s failed gun policies, our lives, spaces and futures are not safe,” said David.

Below are the names of those killed in the massacre:

Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 30
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31

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