04
Mon, Mar

LA Pride, Orlando, and Points in Between

LOS ANGELES

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW-I woke up to a CNN notification this morning that a gunman had opened fire and taken hostages in an Orlando nightclub, the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. As most know by now, Omar Mateen stormed Pulse Nightclub at about 2 am with an automatic rifle and a handgun that he had purchased legally only last week, according to Bureau of Alcohol Assistant Special Agent Trevor Velinor.

Three hours later, a SWAT team had entered the nightclub and Mateen was shot dead after an exchange of fire with eleven Orlando police officers and three Orange County sheriff’s deputies. About 300 people were in the club at the time of the shooting. 

According to NBC News, the New York-born Mateen had sworn allegiance to the leader of ISIS during a 911 call right shortly before the shooting and the massacre is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Seddique Mir Mateen, the shooter’s father said his son had become angered after seeing two men kissing a couple of months ago and he believes that may be related to the shooting.

A few hours later, I received another push notification that the Santa Monica police had found weapons, ammunition, and the materials to build a pipe bomb in the trunk of James Howell, an Indiana man who planned to attend the LA Pride festival in West Hollywood. Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks tweeted that the suspect had told an officer that he wanted to harm the “Gay Pride event.” 

Santa Monica police were responding to a call about a suspected prowler in the vicinity of Olympic and 11th Street when they encountered Howell, who said he was waiting for a friend. Officers found three rifles, including an assault rifle, ammunition, and a five-gallon bucket of tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to make a pipe bomb when they inspected his car. 

Federal and local law enforcement made the decision not to cancel the annual parade, which was held under tightened security. It is not believed this incident and the Orlando massacre are connected. 

LA Pride went on, colored by the sadness surrounding Sunday morning’s massacre but with hope, a celebration of pride and acceptance. From the Super Bowl and the Oscars to events like Pride, large gatherings garner worries that terrorists, ISIS sympathizers, or a lone domestic terrorist will strike. We can’t put our lives on hold because then fear and hatred win. So, we’ll move forward, acknowledging and shedding a tear as we do for each massacre and murder. We can hope that we never get so immune to death by violence, that it no longer means anything, while at the same time, refusing to put a stop on our lives because of potential threats of violence. We cannot accept violence, whether by an ISIS sympathizer, a lone perpetrator of hate crimes, a disenfranchised person, or anyone else.

 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.