Ricky Martin pays emotional visit to Pulse memorial site to honour the 49 lives stolen from Orlando’s queer and Latinx community
Ricky Martin visited the Pulse Massacre memorial site Tuesday (September 15) to honour the 49 victims of the horrendous attack, while calling on Americans to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket in November.
Martin, 48, as well as “Despacito” singer Luis Fonsi, visited the powerful Orlando, Florida, shrine — a space which has come to shoulder the frustrations and grievances felt by the survivors of the 2016 mass shooting at a queer nightclub, killing 49 people.
Sharing photographs of his visit, Martin wrote on Twitter: “We will never forget and we will never let hate win.”
— Ricky Martin (@ricky_martin) September 16, 2020
The “Mariá” singer stopped by the site before a Hispanic Heritage Month event with Joe Biden in Kissimmee.
Biden has billed himself as a wholesale candidate capable of netting a wide ranges of voters, but polls suggest shoring up support among the Latinx voting bloc has proved a challenge.
Facing a tight race in the state, Biden’s first trip to Florida as the Democratic presidential nominee saw the 77-year-old toggle between torpedoing Donald Trump and celebrating diversity.
Martin called on Puerto Ricans to vote for Biden, saying: “He believes everyone has a place in this country, no matter where you were born, what you look like or who you love.”
“Doing what is necessary for the welfare of our communities in the US,” he added in an Instagram post.
Pulse, a night of partying plunged into terror
It was supposed to be a night of celebration. Of dancing away to salsa and merengue music. Of pulling back sharp vodka shots and watching the night melt into dawn. A getaway from the doldrums.
Pulse was, to the Latinx LGBT+ residents of Orlando, a sanctuary. Yet, as witnessed by horrifying testimonies from survivors and video footage, the night became the most horrific, extreme example of the anti-queer tensions that continue to bristle in America.
It was June 12, 2016, and the “Upscale Latin Saturdays” night was just ending. Just before 2am, as the resident DJ reeled back the night with reggae tunes, a crackle was heard.
Confused clubgoers looked aimlessly as the DJ lowered the music. A spray of bullets tore into the walls and plaster and people scrambled into the patio to escape, debris collapsing, patrons trampled.
Minutes before, the killer, Omar Mateen, had parked his van outside Pulse.
He stormed into the club armed with an AR-15-type assault rifle, a handgun and ammunition. He began to fire.
Within two minutes Orlando Police Department officers arrived. Patrol cops pulled victims out as the 29-year-old New Yorker retreated into the women’s bathroom and held several bargoers hostage. Mateen dialled 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic state.
The corner of Kaley Street and South Orange Avenue was a sprawl of 7-Elevens and Subways, with the popular Latinx club nestled by a carwash. Now it was drenched in bullet holes and flashing siren lights.
At around 5am, after a standoff, Mateen was shot down. Anguished relatives paced to learn their loved ones’ fates as it emerged that, of the 320 people in the club that night, nearly a third had been shot.
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