"Do not live in fear'

Warwick honors Orlando shooting victims through candlelight vigil


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Photos



  • Photos by Erika Norton Community members gathered by candlelight at the Railroad Green Tuesday night to honor the victims of the nightclub shooting in Orlando. For a video of moments from the vigil, go to warwickadvertiser.com.




  • Minister Danielle Barbour and her wife, Joy, comfort each other during the vigil.




  • Members of the Warwick Valley Chorale led the crowd in song, singing “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and "We Shall Overcome."




  • Vigil-goers garnered rainbow colors in support of the LGBT community.








  • A small memorial was set up to honor the 49 killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting.




  • Community members gathered together in prayer and song.




BY ERIKA NORTON

Heads bowed and candles glowed Tuesday night on the Railroad Green, where an Orange County Pride event was held just three days earlier. This time, community members stood shoulder-to-shoulder at a vigil to honor the 49 lives lost and the 53 wounded at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

The vigil in Warwick was organized by Safe Space America, an organization that aims to make all of America a safe place for LGBT people.

“People who think that we’re less than human and okay to attack, those are the people we need to educate and let them know that we’re human beings,” said Minister Danielle Barbour, founder of Safe Space America. “You may not agree that I cut my hair short or wear men’s clothes. You may not agree that I am married to a woman and have a child with her. That’s okay. Don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt my friends, my family and the people I call my family. So that is my message today. Change the hearts of those you can.”


Video by Erika Norton



The Rev. James Erwin of Christ Episcopal Church opened the evening in prayer, the Mayor of the Village of Warwick, Michael Newhard, spoke, and the names of the 49 victims were read aloud. Members of the Warwick Valley Chorale also offered up a song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Toward the end of the night, the mic was opened up to community members who wanted to pay tribute and share messages of hope. One of the most touching was given by a mom from Glenwood, N.J., who learned about the vigil through social media.

Her son is gay and is part of the Disney College Program in Orlando. On Sunday, he sent her a text message about the shooting and how he planned never to go to downtown Orlando again.

“I don’t want him to live in fear,” she said. “He shouldn’t have to live in fear for who he loves, and that’s what I tell him. I said, ‘Do not live in fear. Be wary because there are evil people out there, not evil guns, evil people. And just love.'”

She said a mom was in the nightclub that night to support her son, dancing and having the time of her life. That mom took the bullets for her son, she said, adding that she would do the same for her own son.

She asked for prayers for the Disney community, with several cast members killed or injured.

“It is so important for us to get together on a night like tonight,” Newhard said, “to light candles, to say prayers, to talk to each other, to hear beautiful music, because that’s what we are as a community.”

The Warwick Valley Chorale led the crowd in a song that summed up the overall sentiment of the evening, “We Shall Overcome.”

To donate to those affected by the Orlando shooting, visit https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund.




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