Pulse nightclub could become national memorial to 49 ‘angels’ murdered in 2016 massacre

Orlando Florida Pulse nightclub mass shooting

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to designate the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida a national memorial.

The LGBT+ community was left reeling in June 2016 when 49 people were shot dead by a gunman in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, while 53 others sustained injuries.

Florida Democrats Darren Soto, Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy brought forward a bill to have the nightclub listed as a national memorial on Wednesday (12 May).

In a powerful address, Demings urged members of Congress to throw their support behind the bill.

“‘Orlando Strong’ is more than just a slogan, it is a promise to support each other and to never forget those we lost and those who were injured on that tragic night,” she said, referring to a widely-used hashtag.

“By establishing Pulse as a national memorial, we will honour their memories and remind ourselves of that promise.

“My bishop once called the Pulse nightclub a place for late night fellowship, a place for fun, laughter, family, and friendship. These are such fundamental things – we know this now more than ever after the pandemic. We see just how precious these things truly are,” Demings said.

House votes to honour ’49 angels’ who died in ‘horrific’ Pulse nightclub shooting

Addressing the House, Darren Soto said: “Nearly five years ago, 49 angels lost their lives and many others, 53, were injured, when a deranged gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“This horrific act of hate and terror against our LGBTQ and Latino community and African community and Anglo community could have divided us, but we came together stronger than ever before. Orlando swore as a community to never forget those we lost that night. ”

Soto said it is “critical” that the Pulse nightclub is designated a national memorial, saying the devastating attack was “a national and international tragedy”.

“This designation as a non-affiliated national park service, national memorial would not require federal funds, but it would honour the 49 lives taken on 12 June, 2016 as well as the survivors, the first responders who so heroically came to the rescue of so many others and the entire central Florida community,” he said.

“Together we will open minds and hearts, we will make the Pulse memorial a national symbol of hope, love and change.”

Stephanie Murphy told the House that they have a duty to “honour” the memories of those who lost their lives in the Pulse nightclub.

She said designating the nightclub as an official memorial will “reflect the same love, acceptance, and spirit of community that embodied the victims and that embodies the LGBTQ community at large”.

Murphy said it will serve as “a place of healing for the survivors and all those affected” as well as a symbol of “a better, safer and more inclusive nation.”

“By taking this important step America is telling the world that we will never let hate win, that we won’t forget the victims, and that we will fight to ensure no community will ever go through something like this again.”

This is not the first time lawmakers have tried to honour the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. A previous resolution to designate the site as a national memorial was approved last year, but it died after neither of Florida’s senators threw their weight behind a Senate version of the bill.

According to Florida Politics, Republican Rick Scott plans to introduce a Senate version of the bill in the coming days.