I am Rosie Mendez, an out Puerto Rican Lesbian in the NYC Council representing District 2 in Lower Manhattan and I am the Chair of the Council’s LGBT Caucus (CMs Danny Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer, Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres & Jimmy Vacca).
Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me for I was filled with pride as I marched with my friends in the 59th Puerto Rican Day Parade. Yesterday’s parade honored and acknowledged the contributions of LGBTRicans who laid the foundation for our rights on our island. However, as we were celebrating those achievements, the details were unfolding of how our LGBT brothers and sisters of Puerto Rican, Latino and African American descent were murdered in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
49 of our hermanos y hermanas were murdered and another 53 were injured in the June 12th tragedy. While the investigation is ongoing, it is clear that the Orlando shooter attacked the Pulse Nightclub clientele because they were gay, because they were part of the LGBT community.
He killed 49, but he attacked “us”, all of us, and he attacked us—because of who we are and because of whom we choose to love. Simply put this was a HATE CRIME.
And we are mourning, but we will not be silent. We cannot be silent because the memories of our 49 LGBT brothers and sisters demand that we speak out against this senseless crime, it demands that we organize so that no other individual can perpetuate such a hideous crime in the future.
And that is why we must organize to ban the sale of semi-automatic assault style weapons. We must organize to have real meaningful gun control legislation that bans the sale of semi-automatic rifles and assault style weapons. Maybe we would not have been able to stop the Orlando Shooter from perpetuating his horrible hate crime, but if a ban existed then I am sure that this would not be—what is now labelled the deadliest mass murder in U.S. history.
I want to read a few lines from Pedro Pietri’s Poem Puerto Rican Obituary:
All died yesterday today
and will die again tomorrow . . .
waiting for the garden of eden
to open up again
under a new management
dreaming about america . . .”
Orlando, please know that the Puerto Rican/Latino community, the LGBT community, and all of NYC mourns with you. We cannot and will not let their deaths be in vain. Thank you.